Sunday, August 26, 2007

Questions that Need Answers, Part II

I am extremely skeptical that changing the municipal government to an elected mayor format will do much good. I'm willing to listen to some arguments, and in the last week or so I've convinced myself of some of the merits of a mayoral system, but there are still a lot of questions that I will need concrete answers to before I acquiesce to the concept. So here are some of my questions, in no particular order.

1.) Pay

2.) Expectations

What will be the expectations of the Mayor?

Will he or she be blamed for losing jobs, something that will likely be entirely out of the control of the office? Will the mayor be blamed for not creating jobs? We have been predicting less than ideal economic times in the months ahead, times that subject Oshkosh to the mercy of larger nation and worldwide financial forces -- will the mayor have to deal with these, even if he or she has no real means of doing so?

Obviously, mayoral responsibilities will include making sure the buses run on time, that snow is plowed in the winter, pot holes, etc. But what about crime? Oshkosh historically has very little crime and is rather sensitive to even the slightest up-ticks in statistics -- will the mayor be blamed?

What kind of relationship will the mayor have with the police force? Will the mayor be in charge of hiring a new chief of police, if necessary? What about the DA's office -- an entirely separately elected office? Will the mayor be expected to influence the order of various prosecutions? Or will that be entirely inappropriate? What would have been the mayor's job in the Engstrom case?

Will the mayor have to be in parades, gives keys to the city, occasionally humiliate him or her self for the amusement of the town at, say, a dunking booth during Sawdust days?

Will the Mayor have veto power over the council's various motions and whathaveyou? Will there be an override?

Will the mayor be in charge of the budget? Or do we leave that up to the city council?

Will the mayor be an advocate for his employees at City Hall or for the people that elected him? Or both depending on the circumstances? When are those circumstances?

Will it be necessary for this person to have gone to college? To have government experience? To have prior management experience? Is an 8th grade English teacher any less qualified than the CEO of Oshkosh Truck?

What will the mayor's relationship be with the school board? With the school district? With the Superintendent? With the teachers at the schools?

Will the mayor be asked to be an "ambassador to the world" -- someone in charge of bringing businesses to Oshkosh? Will the mayor have a budget to take potential business owners looking to relocate or expand to Oshkosh to dinner or maybe for a round of golf? Will the people of Oshkosh get pissed if their mayor is hitting the links at Whistling Straights and taking out-of-towners to dinner at the Country Club on the tax-payers dime (even if that means more jobs potentially coming to town)?

What if he or she's too busy making the buses run on time to do that job -- will we find someone else to do it? Will the mayor find someone else to do it?

Will the people of Oshkosh accept their mayor saying "That's not my problem"?

Will the mayor be expected to "recuse" him or her self when dealing with an issue where there is a clear conflict of interest? What happens then? Is there a deputy mayor the duty then falls too? Is this someone on the council? Oshkosh is a small town and many people might have to withdraw themselves from deciding a particular issue because of their familiarity with a person involved -- will we need to create an "order of succession" to help mitigate this?

Will the mayor have anything to do with approving liquor licenses or any other licenses?

Will the mayor be expected to lobby the state on pertinent issues?

Will the mayor be in charge of property taxes or the mayor just be scapegoat fr when people want to complain?

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but I think it does qualify as a good place to start.


Questioning said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Questioning said...

As far as I can tell, there is no one in this town to run for office that could do half of what you suggest... and the only official requirements for elected office are age and residency...

sorry about the previous post, I thought I could edit it...

Jb said...

No worries about the editing job...

I think we really need to come up with a concrete idea f what we want a mayor to be before we rush and get one. Maybe some of these things will not be part of the portfolio, but we should start talking about it and get a good idea of what's going on.