It's Not "City Manager" But "Council-Manager" ~ Annapolis Capital Punishment

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

It's Not "City Manager" But "Council-Manager"

This is a plea to candidates, elected officials, activists and especially the media, some of whom keep getting this wrong. I thought I had written about this enough, but here I go again. When discussing the potential changes in our form of government, the correct terms to use are "Mayor-Council Form of Government" (our current form) and "Council-Manager" form of government. This comes directly from the ICMA, which means the International City/County Management Association.

As recently as yesterday, look what Joshua Stewart wrote in The Capital:

The council last night was expected to hear testimony on a charter amendment to be introduced by Alderman David Cordle, R-Ward 5, that would create a city manager form of government. But the legislation was not on the night's agenda.
If we are going to discuss this, vote on it, adopt, reject it or whatever, can we please get the terms correct? There is no "City Manager" form of government either and the terms "City Administrator" and "City Manager" are not interchangeable. "City Administrator" means someone working for a mayor in a "Mayor-Council Form of Government" and a "City Manager" means someone working for a council in a "Council-Manager" form of government. Actually, they are all supposedly working for We The People in what should be called a "Citizens-Council-Manager" or a "Citizens-Mayor-Council" form of government.

Now, as to this business about a professional manager or a Credentialed City Manager (CCM) let's be clear on this too. Of course we all want professional management but ICMA has a credentialing process which gives some indication of the level of professionalism among people who manage cities and counties.  Whether we choose to retain our current form of government or adopt a new one, we can offer the job to a CCM in either situation. This big question remains whether or not a CCM will want to work in our city under the control of its mayor or only under the control of its council.

Given our looming financial crisis and the nature of our political discourse, there might not be any professional manager, credentialed or not, willing to take on this job  (just kidding...). But so many other questions remain, that, well, we can only wait and see, and hope for the best.

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Paul A. Richards said...


You know, in your brain, if not in your heart, that the choice of a Council-Manager form of government, replaces the Mayor with an outsider. If the Council is so afraid/compliant/and angry with this Mayor, it will be equally cowed by a City Manager with better data and glossy graphs.

The real problem is a timid -- often 4-4 -- City Council that never does its own job, and blames the Bad Mayor for picking on them, and will soon blame the Bad outsider.

The City Council is the problem.

Will Small said...

Basically that is what we have now, the city administrator can be scapegoat if necessary. An accredited city manager has more formal training and a reputation to protect should he want to take his profession to a bigger city. It would be good for us to have an outsider, one who is not concerned with local politics. One who is professionally intent on his job. Annapolis is still a town of favoritism, or not, I know scofflaws who are ignored and upstanding citizens who bear undue hardship because they stand up to authority, authority which stands above the law, depending on who you know. Pardon the digression.

We need professional, objective management at all levels.

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