Will The Real "City Manager" Please Stand Up? ~ Annapolis Capital Punishment

Monday, April 12, 2010

Will The Real "City Manager" Please Stand Up?

It goes on. And on. And tonight there is more legislation to be heard. I have written about this. The Capital has written about it. And tonight we shall hear more. The following was sent by Bevin Bucheister, president of the Ward One Resident's Association and provided a good summary from different perspectives about what it all means:

There will be three different ordinances before City Council this Monday night beginning at 7:30pm. Please read the following letters from Doug Smith, Alderwoman Finlayson, and Bill Kardash who each
support a different Ordinance before the Council. Please come to the City Council meeting this Monday night, April 12, 2009 at 7:30 p.m. to let the Council know which Ordinance you prefer, or if you prefer no
change at all .     READ ON.....

Letter from Doug Smith:

 Quite a few people have asked about the three pieces of legislation
coming before City Council: Mayor Cohen's Chief Administrative Officer
 proposal, the City Manager/council-manager structure legislation and
the proposal to change the title of City Administrator. All three are
up for
 Public Hearing Monday, April 12.

Here is a quick summary and implications of each:
 Mayor Cohen introduced CAO legislation (CA-04-10) that defines my
current position, requiring Public administration
experience AND/OR equivalent private industry executive experience. If
this legislation passes, I will continue to work as CAO.

Dave Cordle introduced City Manager legislation (CA-09-09) late last
This legislation would create the City Manager position, with the
manager hired by and reporting to the full City Council.
If this passes, the CAO position would be eliminated.

Ald. Sheila Finlayson introduced legislation that changes the current
title of City Administrator to City Manager (CA-03-10),
with the position reporting to the Mayor. If this passes, the CAO
position would be eliminated.

Voters should also be aware of some behind-the-scenes efforts. There
is a group of people who are very much against the
changes we are making to resize and improve City government. This
status-quo group clearly does not like the cost-cutting measures we
implementing. You may have seen flyers that attack me. No one puts
their name on these flyers or takes responsibility, and the flyers are
full of false
statements. Another round of attacking flyers may come out this
weekend. The attack has become personal and you will notice the flyer
does not
offer any alternative solutions - the flyer only makes personal

At the heart of the conflict is one fundamental issue:

 "Do the residents and businesses of Annapolis like the work we are
doing? Do they support the direction we are taking and the
accountability we are
 bringing to City government?" If you want the work to continue, the
Cohen CAO legislation would make that possible. The other legislation
 eliminate the CAO position at the time we are just getting started in
making the necessary changes.

 Though we have made much progress in just 15 weeks, we believe it
will take at least a year to institutionalize our reforms.

Here are few examples of problems we are dealing with:
 * Overtime spending was out of control; we have put management
controls in place and as a result are saving over $100,000 per month.

 * Parking has been a long, contentious issue in the city. Parking
responsibility is spread across 4 separate organizations. We are
parking together in one department, with plans underway to reopen
contracts that have not been competitively bid for years.

* The deficit created by the bus transit system has grown year after
year. We are completely restructuring transportation to
 improve service, reduce cost and provide a transportation system
people can depend on.

* Our permitting and inspection process is complex and at times,
arbitrary. This drives business owners away from Annapolis.
 This requires significant change if we are to become more business-
and resident-friendly.

The approach we have taken on all of the issues is to apply basic
management practices I have learned in my 30+ years in business. We
analyze the
problem, break it down into its component pieces, and with the Mayor
and senior team, we recommend action. Josh and the Council set the
direction. The Aldermen and Alderwomen have been very concerned about
the seriousness of our financial situation. In previous budget years,
I think
the Aldermen were poorly served with almost no visibility to the
future cost implications of increased hiring, increases in benefits
and salaries, and
increased debt burden. Short term budget shifts made it possible to
avoid the tough issues we now face. We are bringing a lot more
transparency to the
budget detail. While the message is not pleasant, we are making
progress to finally deal with spending issues

As you know I had worked very hard with Bill Kardash to present the
value of a City Manager and the Council/Manager Structure.
When Josh asked me to join his administration, it was very clear that
I was joining a strong mayor organization, and that Josh was the CEO.
I saw
this as an opportunity to help bring about changes that both Josh and
I agreed needed to happen. I think we are at a critical turning point
- this
city can and must be a lot more effective and efficient in delivering

The residents and business owners of Annapolis have the opportunity to
express their views at City Council on April 12.
If you want to see the work continue, at least for the near term, the
aldermen and women need to hear from you.

Letter from Alderwoman Finlayson:

Thank you for the opportunity to share with you the specifics of the
three Charter Amendments that will impact how our city is managed.
There are two fundamental differences in the three pieces of

CA-09-09 - Sponsored by Alderman Dave Cordle and supported by Aldermen
Arnett, Israel and Pfeiffer, would implement a City Manager.
Difference #1 -  The City Manager must be certified by ICMA, the
International City/County Management Association.  ICMA is the premier
local government leadership and management organization.
Difference #2 -  The City Manager would answer to the entire City
Council.  All nine (includes the Mayor) of the members of the Council
would direct the actions of the Manager.

CA-03-10 - Sponsored by Alderman Silverman and me, Alderwoman
Finlayson.  It is also Co-sponsored by Alderwoman Hoyle and Alderman
Kirby.  I co-sponsored this same legislation with Alderman Cordle a
few years ago in an effort to bring professional management to our
Difference #1 -  The City Manager must have at least five years of
professional municipal management but he/she is not required to be a
member of ICMA.
Difference #2 - The City Manager would answer to the mayor, as the
only citywide elected official.

CA-04-10 - Sponsored by the Mayor.  This legislation is almost
identical to CA-03-10.
Difference #1 - The title of the position is Chief Administrative
Officer.  This requires the creation of a new position.  Actually,
this job description is written for a specific person rather than a
specific job.
Difference #2 - The Chief Administrative Officer would not have to
have any municipal experience.

That's it in a nutshell.  As you can see from my description, this
subject has been on the table for several years and at least two
pieces of legislation are not designed to deal with the current budget
decisions.  We all want professional management for our city.  How we
get there will be the defining question.

I hope this is helpful.

Letter from Bill Kardash:

Dear ABC Friends and Supporters:

On Monday, April 12 at 7:30pm a Public Hearing will be held on several
important items that could have a huge impact on how Annapolis is
governed. We are seeking a strong turnout of people who support our
Council-Manager initiative (CA-09-09) which is still alive and,
hopefully, working toward a favorable vote in the weeks ahead.

The Council will hear public comments on THREE bills that could have
an impact on how Annapolis is managed and governed:

CA-03-010 – Recently introduced by Alderman Sheila Finlayson. While
this Bill is labeled “Council-Manager II”, it does NOT call for a TRUE
Council-Manager government. Instead, it simply establishes
qualifications for a “City Manager” who would still answer ONLY to the
Mayor – not the full Council as we have been proposing.  Finlayson’s
bill is very similar to one she sponsored in early 2009. The primary
purpose this legislation has been “re-introduced” is because
Finlayson, Hoyle and Kirby are very upset with Mayor Cohen’s attempts
to retain “City Administrative Officer” Doug Smith who, they believe,
has been advocating for layoffs (keep in mind that Doug can only do
what the Mayor will allow). As you may know, Doug serves as a
“consultant” on the City’s payroll, but doesn’t have the job
qualifications set forth in the City Code. Smith’s contract is due to
expire on June 30, 2010. This bill, if passed, would make it
impossible for Doug to continue as CAO.

CA-04-010 – This Bill was introduced by Mayor Josh Cohen because he
wants to retain Doug Smith as his CAO. As outlined above, Smith’s
position as “CAO” is NOT an authorized City position and he has not
been approved by the full Council. Under existing City Code, a “City
Administrator shall have had, prior to appointment, an advanced degree
in public or business administration and a minimum of 5 years of
experience in public administration; or an equivalent combination of
education and experience. The city administrator shall be thoroughly
familiar with contemporary budgeting and accounting practices.” While
Smith has an MS degree, he has no experience in public administration
and his familiarity with budgeting and accounting practices is not
adequate for the job. Cohen has a serious problem with this bill since
it contradicts his campaign promise to hire a “credentialed City
Manager” to run the City. He has been trying to gain Council support
for his bill. Recently, he has offered to “sunset” the bill. That is,
he is asking for a “one year approval” for relaxing of the job
requirements for CAO. So far, this bill doesn’t seem to have much
support, but – then again – the Mayor can do some “arm-twisting” to
gain support.

CA-09-09 – This is the bill introduced by Dave Cordle in October 2009.
It has been reported out favorably from the Rules Committee and a
Public Hearing has already occurred. Mayor Cohen has said, openly,
that he does not support a change to a Council-Manager form of
government. Under normal circumstances, the bill should have come up
for a vote in late February. That meeting was cancelled due to the
snow. Then it was supposed to go the Council for a vote on March 11,
but it was removed from the Agenda by the Mayor (the Mayor sets the
meeting Agendas). That was the same night the budget was presented to
the Council. Now, the “Cordle Bill” will, again, go through a Public
Hearing. We think it is repetitive, but we are OK with that. After the
Public Hearing this bill will go to the Rules Committee, along with
the others. We would expect them to come before the Council later this

So …. All three bills will go to Public Hearing on Monday night and we
are asking you to attend and testify on one, two or all three.

Here are the key “talking points” to consider:

1.      CA-04-010 – Mayor Cohen’s bill should NOT be passed because it
circumvents the City Code for a “City Administrator”. The Council
should not relax the professional job qualifications for any position,
especially one as important to the future of the City as a “City
Administrator”. This sets a bad precedent that qualifications for any
professional-level position can be “changed on a whim” to suit a
particular desire. While some may feel that Doug Smith is doing an
“OK” job, the Mayor has done “an end run” on the Council by (1)
appointing Doug to a position for which he has no professional
experience (2) is now asking the Council to approve this lack of
experience and (3) this is “politics” over “good judgment”.
Ultimately, we, the tax-payers, pay the price for not having the best
qualified person in the job

2.      CA-03-010 – Alderwoman Finlayson’s bill should NOT be passed
because it simply deals with the job qualifications of the “City
Administrator”. We already have that in the City Code. Too, this bill
confuses the issue of a “true” City Manager, by implying that a vote
for this bill is a “vote for Council-Manager”. This bill will NOT
bring a “Council-Manager” government to the City. The Mayor will
continue to control the actions and policies carried out by the City
Administrator. This is the same form of government that Annapolis has
had for decades and has proved to be inadequate.

3.      CA-09-09 – This is the Bill we have been striving to get
passed. This Bill WILL change the City Charter so that a Council-
Manager form of government is created. The City Manager will have FULL
authority to manage the day-to-day operations of the City. He/she will
be able to hire, fire City employees or restructure departments. The
Mayor will be ONE vote – not the ONLY vote -- in directing the actions
of the City Manager. We will have a trained and qualified PROFESSIONAL
City Manager running the City. “Politics” will be removed from
everyday decisions as a trained manager makes decisions based on
performance standards and measurements, not political alliances and

4.      Budget woes – If the City HAD a Council-Manager government in
place during the Moyer years, it is unlikely that the City would be
faced with the current budget crisis.  No experienced, professionally-
trained City Manager would have allowed the payroll to grow
unfettered, or overtime to get out-of-control or the Market House
debacle … or any other examples of poor management we can list. NOW IS
THE TIME TO FIX the matter of good government, once and for all.
Annapolis NEEDS a Council-Manager form of government.

Please try to attend the Council Meeting on April 12. We need to have
“voices and faces” to stand up and support our important position With
several new Alderman now on the Council (Ian Pfeiffer in W7, Mat
Silverman in W5 and Kenny Kirby in W6) they need to hear community
support. Pfeiffer and Silverman campaigned in FAVOR of Council-
Manager. We also need to have the other Aldermen and Alderwomen hear
AGAIN that a true Council-Manager government initiative is “alive and

Please try to be there. Thank you.

Bill Kardash, Chairman  Annapolitans for a Better Community

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