This reeks of someone trying to score political points and ignores the real issues they should be addressing.Rumor has it he wants to run for mayor. I gotta say, when he was council president and buddies with Mayor Dave, he had very few concerns and poo-poo’d others concerns about the imbalance of power between the council and the mayor. I agree, by the way, there is an imbalance of power, but then they should actually do something about it instead of just being silly. Here’s his description of the idea – more comments after.
From: Clear, Mark
Sent: Monday, September 24, 2012 4:14 PM
To: ALL ALDERS
Subject: Half-time Council President proposal
As you know, supporting the institution of the council has been a passion of mine, during my terms in leadership and since. I have felt for some time that while our city has grown in size and complexity, the resources and capacity of the council have not kept pace. I am concerned that the job of Alder is now so difficult as to make it beyond consideration for all but the most hardy workaholics among us, or those that have more flexibility with their time and energy than many of our citizens can muster. This condition is not sustainable.
While having such a high bar may ensure some “survival of the fittest” benefits, it also puts the job out of reach of many segments of our population. This makes the council less representative of the citizens.
The lack of capacity also impairs our ability to represent citizens effectively as their most direct connection to city hall and as an equal branch of government with the executive.
At the same time, I recognize that transitioning to a more professional-level council has significant drawbacks, and we collectively made a decision during the 2010 redistricting not to tamper with the size or structure of the council.
I believe, though, that there is a compromise path and starting step that could help us build capacity and share power more equally with the executive branch.
The role of council president is a crucial one, and one which has grown in importance and responsibility, especially over the last six years. A strong council president makes the entire council more effective. Done well, I believe the job requires at least a half-time commitment and should be recognized as such.
Therefore, I will be introducing at our October 2nd meeting an ordinance amendment designating the council president as a 50% employee, paid commensurately with a salary of 50% of that of the Mayor. This would be effective with the 2013 leadership election.
I first considered this proposal two years ago, but discovered too late that the statutory deadline for salary changes had been changed by the Legislature. This year, I had wanted to see where the Alder role/job description discussion would take us, but that has been slow and we’re running up against the statutory deadline of December 1. So I’m moving forward now.
I expect and welcome a robust discussion around this idea. I’ll be the first to admit there are good arguments for and against. I realize it may preclude some current Alders from feeling able to serve as president, though I would argue that the reality of the commitment is there whether we recognize it or not.
The item should be in Legistar by Tuesday. Please contact the council office if you wish to co-sponsor.
Yeah, like he said, he’s just trying to score political points. This is going no-where fast. I consider these types of navel gazing, political point scoring proposals much more a waste of time than the resolutions that the papers usually whine about. Worse yet, he knows it is going nowhere. He just wants to get in his digs against the mayor and the mayor’s salary. He knows that a half time council president makes it so few can serve. He also is just trying to score political points by making the proposal a $60,000 job at half time because the mayor’s salary is double that.
Also, I’m kinda tired of the alders whining about how hard their jobs are. They are spending so much time feeling sorry for themselves and how busy they are that they aren’t doing anything. When’s the last time, except for budget, that any alder brought forward any legislation or initiatives that caught your eye – except this silly one. Seems like all the proposals are the mayor’s – and then maybe a reaction to them – maybe. If they want to get some power back, I suggest they have some policy proposals. And that they vote against the mayor from time to time, or make amendments to his proposals instead of just referring them back to his office. They all just cave – rarely with even any amendments. Or there is scrambling behind the scenes that we aren’t seeing. The culture of the council has become “lets hurry up and get this done” (meetings usually go long due to public testimony) and “no amendments on the floor of the council – that’s committee work”. At that point, they do become kinda irrelevant – Tuesday nights are “rubber stamp” nights. Perhaps they should address the issues mentioned here instead of trying to figure out what they do and what their roles are. (ok, I gotta admit, Bridget Maniaci is one of the few that has taken on the mayor, mostly on development issues)
One final thing. As the council culture moves closer to the culture of the county board, I think the public is being pushed out of the process. The more back room deals that get worked out, the more “done deals” that hit the council floor, the more referrals to the Mayor’s office so the discussions are out of the public eye, the more pressure there is to not discuss things on the council floor, the harder it is for the public to pay attention and have an impact. It will become more important for the media to cover the committee work, which there really isn’t resources for. Otherwise, by the time the public finds out about things, its over. And it is the council, and the culture they are promoting, that is making this happen.
Check those “week ahead” posts for issues going on with local government – that is where the action is happening, not at the council (or the county board) meetings. It can be grueling to follow an issue, especially if it gets referred to 5 or 6 committees, but that is where discussions are happening if you are interested. What I’m seeing at this point is the lobbyists are showing and and running the show. I found this particularly on the Downtown Plan and Zoning Code Rewrite. They wore me out and the last people standing were all lobbyists. TIF policy is the next issue that they will do this with – and with this issue, they will likely even hold the meetings during the day, making it easier for staff and lobbyists and further precluding the participation of the general public.
There are, no doubt, issues – but Mark Clear has identified the wrong issue and is going to waste the council time while the other issues go untalked about.
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