Failed leadership, undefendable actionsPublished 9:18pm Saturday, January 26, 2013
By Roger Leonard
I watched the recent circus on City Council with awe. I saw a devious method to push the city manager’s new pay raise quietly forward.
While the manager works for us all, no one but council knows how hard or how effectively she performs her duties. So I will leave that issue for others to postulate upon and move on to the particular issue of Councilman Parr’s manipulation of this corrupt deed.
The issue that I find most disturbing in this entire process was how some on council manipulated the situation to exclude any public comment, especially after the uproar earlier last fall. Apparently, some did not want to hear from the “unwashed masses.”
What really needs to be reviewed is how and why this divisive issue failed to make the regular council agenda as an agenda item, published and seen by the people of Suffolk. The way this was handled ensured that the public was in the dark and some on council could do as they pleased.
This kind of manipulative government was common in the distant, feudal past, when democracy meant little and the king or queen ruled. Perhaps our council believes they are now Lords above us all and the engagement of the peasants means little.
For a group on council that came to power with a claim of being open and transparent, the opposite seems true. When they want their way, they make sure those pesky peasants are not around to carp and complain.
I know many of the members of our City Council, well. I have engaged them over the years and watched as they governed our small city. Some, I even call personal friends. However, I am truly disappointed in the manner they handled this issue.
If they felt such a raise was so deserved, why sneak it onto the agenda after the fact and do it in stealth-mode? Why exclude the people paying the bills, if you say you represent their views? Is there a reason the city manager does not merit her raise on the basis of the facts that can be made public?
Who will answer these questions? Probably not the city manager or council members.
Here’s a suggestion for any council member who is a patriot of freedom: Make a motion at the next public council meeting to nullify the action taken previously on the city manager’s pay and benefits, and clearly demand an open hearing on the issue that includes the people of Suffolk.
I would also suggest that if the city manager is truly as wise and effective a public servant as suggested by our mayor and others on City Council, she make the case for why she should receive higher pay and benefits when so many get less or nothing.
She may also be well served to relinquish her huge pay raise and deferred compensation and join the rest of us working with mounting bills and taxes, as a sign of her leadership.
These are just a few thoughts to ponder in this utter mess created by our council. The disappointment I and others have in this process, pushed by Mr. Parr and certified by a majority on council — is because it was done on the sneak.
I am hopeful that someone on council (perhaps the mayor) will recognize that this will be seen by most of us as the biggest failure of the decade for council and take action and lead.
Time, as always, will tell.
Roger Leonard is from Suffolk. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.