Archive for Thursday, July 3, 2003

City Council, administrator need to accept roles

July 3, 2003

The city of Eudora has had a city administrator on the top of its organizational chart for one year. The tension that recently surfaced between City Administrator Mike Yanez and some members of the Eudora City Council was inevitable. The misgivings among some on the City Council about the position was evident in an extended period between the Council's decision to finance the position that led to Yanez's hiring.

Eudora hasn't grown to the point that Council members are seen as distant officials. They are friends, family members or former classmates elected in part because they were accessible.

Apparently, some Council members think they are now excluded from decisions. Residents and city employees come to them with concerns they aren't free to act on. In what was surely rhetorical overkill, the city administrator --who serves at the will of the Council -- was compared to a dictator.

Yes, it's important Council members listen to concerns of citizens and city employees. But the sound policy for Council members is to simply say they'll take the concern to city administrator. A single Council member can promise nothing. If the Council member thinks the issue is worth the full Council's consideration, that can be communicated to Yanez.

A wise city administrator will have an open-door policy with Council members, who have a much better understanding of the community concern, political realities and historical context.

The city has grown to the point that it can be overseen by six bosses, each with direct involvement in its day-to-day business. That is a recipe that invites conflicting demands and wasted effort while undercutting the city administrator's authority. The advantage of a clear chain of command is obvious. It will equate to efficiency and -- most important to taxpayers -- savings. It is hoped the tension is just growing pains and that all in city government can find a comfort level with the new arrangement.

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