As Flint residents prepare to vote on a new city charter, prepared after two years’ work by an elected nine-member charter review commission, EVM received two last perspectives, the one below advocating a “no” vote, the other a “yes” vote by Richard and Betty Ramsdell that can be found here. Two other commentaries were posted earlier, a “yes” argument by Ashley Nickels posted here and a “no” argument by Eric Mays posted here.–Ed.
By Sally Kagerer
Let me say I appreciate all of the time, energy, effort and work put in by our nine elected charter commissioners. So it is with a heavy heart that I cannot support this document.
The opportunity to give ourselves good governance will not happen with this document. This proposed City Charter is our old charter on steroids. There are a few issues with this proposed charter I would like to address but since time is short I will only be able to address one issue.
What has given our city gross mismanagement has been the ability of the mayor to appoint all department heads. Section 1-501 of the proposed charter keeps this in place. Department heads work and serve at the pleasure of the mayor. Each new mayor of course will want his or her own team, appointing all new department heads.
Any experienced municipal professional will pause at the offer of a job since there are built in” term limits”. You go when the mayor goes. Or at least that has been our experience since 1976. How can our city recruit good people under these circumstances?
True municipal professionals want to build their careers and make a difference for their communities. I know of department heads who did not receive the courtesy of notification before a press conference was held to announce their replacement. The Flint Park Lake Project saw more than six economic development directors in ten years. Think of what this must mean for those city employees working under numerous department heads. There is a constant setting of new goals and priorities.
Before you can accomplish anything of substance, the new director tells you to work on his “vision.” This has led to incompetence and a loss of institutional memory. Good employees leave or retire early. These are problems we need to deal with in a structural way. Municipal professionals need to survive the political process in order to give City Hall stability.
It is true that this section (1-501) does provide for a job description and qualifications. However, nowhere does it say the appointee cannot serve if not qualified. If the council does not consent, Section 1-501 C 5 says after 90 days the appointment takes place.
Stop this patronage of the mayor handing out jobs. The last 30 years of a strong mayor governance has not benefitted us in the least. It has in fact wounded us deeply. For our future, vote no on strong mayor governance.
Born and raised in Flint, Sally Kagerer is a local business woman. She owns and operates Art Beauchamp Ace Hardware at 1101 W. Pierson Rd. Sally and her husband Rick lived next door to the hardware for 38 years. Sally is a strong advocate for the North End of Flint. Sally and Rick recently moved to the College Cultural Neighborhood.