/* left_sidebar content begin */ /* left_sidebar content end */

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Last Nail in the Coffin or the Icing on the Cake

Last night the mayor put on one of his dog and pony shows, otherwise known as a town meeting. Acting CAO Harry Black was trotted out to deliver two startling bits of information.

  1. After having spent perhaps 1/2 million in unauthorized city funds on his aborted midnight move of the school system to 3600 Broad, the city was in negotiations to terminate the secret lease he signed in mid August.

  2. Up to one million tax dollars were diverted from flood relief and employee raises to pay for a move that was probably illegal and definitely unethical.

Black stated these expenses would be mitigated during negotiations with the landlord, perhaps by as much as $100,000, perhaps not. The administrations math has been less than accurate, or should I say less than genuine, in the past. This is not taking into consideration that perhaps all Black's action in the past few months may be ruled invalid since his appointment was rejected by City Council. The full extent of planning and secrecy of this operation are revealed in some of the costs detailed in City records, including $125,000 in telecommunications equipment installed at 3600 W. Broad without the knowledge of the Council or the School Board. The court costs will continue to mount. The waste of time and credibility are harder to calculate.

Mayor Wilder's justification for these actions was that this would save as much as one million dollars a year. These figures have since been debunked. At best it would be a wash. Now he admits it was more about establishing his authority than saving money. He said the school board had to move and by God they were going to move, one way or the other. It turns out it was both ways, all accomplished between 6:00 PM Friday and 6:00 AM Saturday. He did, after all, promise to move mountains on our behalf. He can't be faulted for reneging on this promise. His used his favorite tactic of the fait accomplis, the accomplished fact. The tactic, which in the past he has used so well (see Performing Arts Center, budget battles and City Council staff) failed him, as did the courts.

The first broken promise was that he was not seeking to become the first “strong” mayor under the new city charter he crusaded for. Unable to resist the temptation, he reneged on that promise. Those who knew him warned that we would be getting more and possibly less than we bargained for. Almost no one listened.

The “governor” hit the ground running and hasn’t looked back. He has been nothing if not consistent. The paint was barely dry on the walls of his new office when he eliminated security checks at City Hall entrances and spent the money on his own 24 hour security entourage. The next move was his first attempt at rearranging the furniture at City Hall. It didn’t suit the dignity of the Mayor’s Office to maintain office space on the same floor with that “cesspool of corruption” (his words) known as the City Council. What was needed was newly remodeled office space on the 18th floor where the air was cleaner and the view is better. This time he failed. Next time he would call the movers himself.

It’s been one thing after another with this Mayor. He’s the gift that keeps on giving. He became a specialist at separating employees from their service at City Hall. No one, well almost no one, has been fired, only separated. Then when that got boring, he granted himself the power to hire and fire the Council staff. That must have been a delicious moment when they cooked up that scheme. What better way to wage war against the City Council than to harass their staff and force them to reapply for their own jobs. The Council Chief of Staff bravely took a bullet for the team and the rest were forced into a humiliating compromise.

This is the new day that Wilder promised us. It seems a bit too much like the old days, only worse. It is the triumph of form over function. It turns out that it’s not so much the form of government as it is the individuals who run that government. We have only ourselves to blame. Except me of course, I voted for the other guy, really.

Facebook StumbleUpon Digg Technorati Delicious Google Bookmark Yahoo


** **