Tuesday, March 20, 2007

How can we throw the city manager under the bus?

I wrote the other day about the city council form of government and how Carbondale's government has had poor results over the last 20 or 30 or 50 years. I followed the logic that was, Carbondale's results as a city are bad, you like city manager form of government, city manager must suck. I was really surprised that no one jumped into this with a key observation... The City Manger is really a good man.

When you are talking about a guy who had been running the city successfully for 20+ years on a day to day basis. We have top notch fire and police protection. World class water and sewer treatment. The streets are in good repair. The storm drains work well. There is everything is town that any town needs. Based on his job description, you are talking about a guy who performs at the highest level. He works hard, he is responsive, he really cares about the city.

The city manager is supposed to run the city, and is doing a good job on a personal level. But, the city's performance sucks as a whole. Taxes are high, crime is up, our non-service businesses are way down over 20 years. The city manager never announces programs to improve the city, he only implements the programs that the mayor and city council invent and make into laws and rules.

So who is supposed to come up with the ideas to improve the city? Is it the city council and mayor? Is it the city manager?

Carbondale finds itself in a situation that often happens at SIU and other big bureaucracies, the results stink, but no one owns the results. We have Bob Pauls and Sheila saying the City Manager will own the new ideas and results, but the city manager's job description is that he doesn't own the ideas or results (if he did, he would be fired), the city council and mayor do.

At SIU, we have Glenn Poshard stepping up and saying that he owns the results. He is overstepping his bounds, cutting through the red tape, trying to fix SIU. Finally, it isn't the system's fault, Glenn owns it.

For the last four years in Carbondale, we have had Brad Cole saying that he owns the results. He is overstepping his bounds, cutting through the red tape, trying to fix Carbondale. Finally, it isn't the system's fault, Brad owns it.

I find it amazing that anyone would want to go back to what we had before. Bad results and no one who owned them. I don't know if this breaks the first rule of management, but it is surely in the top 10.

What do you think? Does the city manager own the results in Carbondale for better or worse? Does the mayor? Does anyone own the results?

Your comments are welcome.

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