How Alderman Silverman Came to Vote ~ Annapolis Capital Punishment

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

How Alderman Silverman Came to Vote

Former mayoral candidate Trudy McFall  says that Alderman Matt Silverman may have been coerced or otherwise compromised in voting independently on the recent bills concerning the structure of city government. The background is too complicated to recap but it has all been covered here and in other media. The bottom line, at least to CP, is that Silverman campaigned on the platform of supporting a council-manager form of government. That put him squarely in the McFall rather than the Cohen camp and MsFall supported Silverman in his campaign.
That came about after CP and others had to explain to Silverman in detail, what the substantive differences were between calling someone a city manager and actually having a council-manager form of government wherein the alderman, including Silverman of course, and not the mayor alone would hire and fire the chief executive officer of the city. In other words, Silverman and his colleagues would have a lot more power in a council-manager form of government, while that of the mayor would be weakened. One can only guess at the behind-the-scenes politicking that may have gone around, but Silverman admits to being contacted by both Senator John Astle and candidate for delegate, Judd Legum to support Mayor Cohen. McFall contends it was worse that that and wrote in:

"I will share with you what Mat told me that he would get in exchange for his vote on the City Manager bill. He told me that he wants to go to a 14 week training school to become a US Marshal. Being gone for that period of time could allow his council seat to be in danger. He told me that Josh told him that if he cooperated and voted with Josh against the City Manager bill, that Josh promised to cover for him and say that while Mat was out of town that Mat was an active member of the City Council and that Josh would say he spoke to Mat daily about City matters. This Josh said, according to Mat, would preserve Mat's seat. Thus are the self serving and devious ways that we decide how our City will be run. Is decency and honesty an impossible dream for our City? Trudy McFall
Silverman denies any such quid pro-quo as does Cohen, but Cohen has been implicated before in a similar situation during  the campaign. Silverman did admit to a discussion with the mayor in which he was told the mayor would support him any way he could as alderman. Silverman, a county police officer, may be accepted into a 14-week law enforcement training program in Georgia, but feels it would not preclude him from serving as an alderman during that time. Considering the specialized nature of a Federal Marshal's job, which includes tracking fugitives, transporting prisoners and protecting officials and witnesses, one wonders how Silverman, 30, could handle such a position and remain an alderman. I think that it would be wrong for Silverman to leave for 14 weeks while serving as an alderman, and that it would be wrong to expect that he could fulfill his duties if he had to leave for such a period.

Silverman does admit that he campaigned in support of the council-manager issue but then changed his mind, as he feels that Cohen needs a chance to get things in order and that now is not a good time to make such a change. He may support it later. He did not feel any regret about having backtracked on a campaign promise.
In a conversation with Silverman on that and other topics, CP asked what his intentions were regarding the budget.  Silverman does not want to see anyone lose a job and he does not want to see a tax increase. I asked what are the alternatives. He said it was to "cut programs"  and I asked him how he could cut a program without cutting a job and he offered no answer. I asked what programs he would cut and he replied, "Can I get back to you on that?" Why he had no ready answer during the budget process was troubling, but he has not yet provided any response.

After this conversation, I am thinking that perhaps 14 weeks away would not have a major impact on his ability to serve after all.

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Alex Pline said...

This is a classic example of why the council-manager form of government in Annapolis would be a disaster. As I mentioned in my Hometown Annapolis comment on the subject, Aldermen have too many demands on their time as part time city employees and as a result are not in a position to have a stronger role in the municipal government. So instead of having a city manager responsible to one person we can vote out if we don't like his/her policies, we have to depend on 8 city councilors who can't get out of their own way, are embroiled in infighting wars and are driven by the special interests of their constituents. Sheesh, what a mess.

Paul Foer said...


The council manager style works in most cities of the size of Annapolis. What you seem to be saying is that the current system, worked well under Moyer and is working well under Cohen? The current system is a system of patronage, and it is that patronage which brought us this council through politicking. With a council-manager style the aldermen would be freed up to focus on planning, policy and leadership and let the manager deal with the complex details. I do not know why you think special interests on constituents is a bad thing. The squeaky wheel gets the grease...or Greece.

Alex Pline said...

I am not saying that. Things were bad under Moyer, they appear better under Cohen. They might get better, they might get worse. but we will have the ability to change it by changing the Mayor. The two points I want to make are:

1) I mean no disrespect to any past or present Alderman, but this job does not have their full attention. Which means they are often distracted by their "real" job, as in this case with Silverman or as was the case with a past Ward 2 Alderman who was MIA for most of his term.

2) By giving the Council the power to hire/fire the city manager, "majority alliances" among Wards would effectively negate the vote of constituents in "minority" Wards. In the case of the Mayor-Council system, everyone's vote carries the same weight to oust the Mayor (and thus the City Administrator).

If the city council jobs were well paying full time jobs (or we only allowed people who didn't have to work other jobs), I might change my tune on the Council-Manager idea.

I don't buy for an instant that "With a council-manager style the aldermen would be freed up to focus on planning, policy and leadership and let the manager deal with the complex details." That's a pipe-dream.

Bottom line is that I believe the "cure" in our case will be worse than the "disease" - as demonstrated by the shenanigans that goes on with the city council that are worse than the (past?) shenanigans that go on with the Mayor.

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