A CITY MANAGER COULD END CHAOS AT CITY HALL
A mayor and council at war. No strategic planning for runaway growth. Police and other pressing issues ignored or neglected. Beleaguered employees caught in the crossfire. Politicians blaming each other. A city divided.
That may sound a lot like our current city government, but the year was ca. 2010 when practically the same situation was going on, only the names were different.
There was no resolution then and none is in sight now.
A solution floated at that time was to change to a city manager/council form of government (from a mayor/council one) where a professional administrator would run daily city operations instead of a mayor who may not be fully qualified, taking a lot of the usual patronage (favoritism) and "politics" out of the equation.
One council member, Jimmy Conyers, says it should at least be considered again; another wouldn't say one way or another (Robinson) and Burrell, Boone, and Brown oppose the idea outright.
As we understand the process, citizens submitted a petition to the judge of probate for a voter referendum for the change, an election was scheduled for Oct. 2nd, and if approved the change would be implemented when the new government is sworn in after the next municipal election, November 2020.
A new 'Council of the City of Fairhope' would be established to replace the current traditional city council and the mayor would become one of its voting members; a new city manager would be hired as CEO to administer policies and manage employees under direction of the new Council (not the mayor).
Besides continuing as the ceremonial "head of state," the new mayor would preside over Council meetings, as it was done here prior to the year 2000.
One thing is for sure: The status quo is not acceptable.
We endorse the proposal to help bring much-needed order and transparency to our government, enable better long-range strategic planning, and provide some measure of stability (job security) for city employees ... as well as reduce the influence of the usual well-connected special interests.
The city council should not allow special interests to derail the vote, allow the referendum to take place as scheduled, and hen decide the district representation matter itself by majority vote.
Those who think current shortcomings of city government could be solved by simply electing a new mayor and/or council may want to think again, that may only perpetuate the problem, small town pork-barrel politics as usual.