Sunday, August 26, 2007

Questions that Need Answers, Part III

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

3.) Hiring & Spending Power

What will be the mayor's ability to hire and fire City Hall employees, contractors, consultants, temporary & seasonal employees, interns and the like?

This is extremely important. Oshkosh is, again, a small town. There's a lot of people who are related to a lot of other people in town. There are a lot of other people who went to school with even more people in town. And there are plenty of people who have done business together over the years with all sorts of other people in town. So what becomes our definition of croonyism and of graft and of kickbacks?

Will the mayor be able to hire family members to jobs in the city government? What about extended family, like cousins or in-laws? If the answer is automatically no -- what happens when these people are actually qualified and would be good for the job?

What about granting city contracts to friends or relatives or people who have done business with the mayor in the past? If there is a competitive bidding process in which all offers are essentially equal and the contract goes to the know entity, will this qualify as graft?

Will a mayor who has been perceived as making decisions during his or her time in office that benefit a certain party be forbidden from accepting employment with said party upon leaving office or will this simply be deemed poor form?

Will we need to create a panel to oversee any of the above instances should they arise? If so, who will be eligible to serve on the panel and how will it be selected?

The point of most of these questions is that anybody who assumes a position of power at City Hall will bring his or her own "good old boys" network with them into office. Everyone will have one -- if you don't have your own "good old boys" network you will not get elected because no one single person gets elected to a city-wide office on his or her own.

So, will every consulting gig automatically have to be audited or just the ones that are given to people with whom the mayor has a prior relationship?

Will the incoming mayor have to make a list of all prior contacts that may result in a conflict of interest upon taking office -- a sort of "full disclosure" measure?

No comments: