Wednesday, October 26, 2011

No risk in change to city manager

The supporters of retaining Ketchum's current strong mayor form of government have decided to frame their campaign as "All Risk-No Reward." This is the same "old boy" politics found in any setting where entrenched political dynasties use scare tactics to retain power.

Prior to 1870, until the passage of the 15th Amendment, scare tactics were used to try to prohibit African-Americans from voting. Today, we have an African-American sitting in the White House. Prior to the 1913 passage of the 17th Amendment, the powers that be asserted that it was too scary to let average Americans vote for U.S. senators directly. Since that time we have had a multitude of great U.S. senators who never would have been elected had they been subjected to the whims of the various politicians in the state legisbtures. And in 1920, with the ratification of the 19th Amendment, women were finally allowed to vote in the U.S. The "old boy" politicians of that time were scared of exactly what ended up happening, namely that women would not only vote, but would eventually be major players in the political system itself—and we are all better for it.

The question of whether a city manager is a better choice than a mayor to control most city operations and the hiring and firing of staff is not related to fear—but is related to competence. A trained full-time city manager, who is dedicated to ethics in government, is clearly a better choice to hold the major responsibilities of a Iocal government, than a part-time, inexperienced-but-well-intentioned mayor.

Borrowing from Baird Gourlay's campaign slogan "Don't Be Scared—Vote For A Professional City Manager Form Of Government."

Jim Donoval

Sun Valley

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