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Opinion: The City’s Most Thankless Job

Opinion: The City’s Most Thankless Job

It would appear to be a thankless job.

Wanted: a city manager for a highly-rated, diversified community of medium size in America’s heartland. Great place to live and raise a family, educationally advanced, with a strong medical presence and numerous other stabilizing factors to shout about.

What in the past would have been a plum for any upward-bound municipal administrator has become somewhat tarnished.

There’s a shelf-life for city managers.

Mr. Mike Matthes — a good man with his heart in the right place — was selected for the city manager position by the previous mayor, Dr. Bob McDavid, with the assent of a more passive, less controlling city council.

But Mr. Matthes was increasingly marginalized by a more controlling, hands-on mayor, Brian Treece, backed by several hyperactive, agenda-driven city council members in particular, nursed by a lengthening string of activists and special interest groups.

For whoever applies and is ultimately selected, things will turn out to be no different. But good luck to whoever lands the job!

So, who’s really in charge now? Why, the mayor and the city council, of course.

In sum, we actually know very little about the ring leaders we elect to preside over this municipal circus. Curiously absent in this journalistically-enriched city is any informative detail about those we elect and the burgeoning group of sideline participants. Where are their biographies? Voters should be entitled to have the full curriculum vitae of each person we elect including their education as well as life stories of employment and accomplishments.

With only a fraction of those duly qualified ever bothering to vote in the April elections, the city is overwhelmingly governed by people who have skillfully cultivated a select group of like-minded voters who join the fray to advance their agendas.

Absent (with only the feeblest efforts to ascertain) is knowledge of how residents feel about the myriad of activities the city is involved with. What we learn from annual “feel-good” surveys is pure bunk and a waste of money.

What we really want to know is how residents are thinking about their city and the direction in which it is headed.

If voters across town could choose, would things have turned out any differently for the growing list of initiatives that have been spurned by the current city council? Would voters have welcomed the CVS pharmacy instead of blowing more than a million bucks on some park land at a busy intersection?

The next municipal election — Tuesday, April 2, 2019 — will offer voters the opportunity to affect change. That is, if one or more of the three incumbents up for re-election is tossed out.

Looking over the recent past, the present city council really has very little in the way of positive accomplishments to hang its hat on.

And for this great city we call home, that’s really rather embarrassing.

 

Al Germond is the host of the Columbia Business Times Sunday Morning Roundtable at 8:15 a.m. Sundays on KFRU. He can be reached at algermond@businesstimescompany.com.

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