Sunday, January 13, 2008

Alderman Proposes Empowering City Administrator

Ward One Alderman, Dick Israel (D), has proposed a charter amendment to significantly broaden the the powers of Annapolis' City Administrator. Among the proposed changes are: allowing the Administrator the power to take charge of hiring and firing decisions in the City bureaucracy and the ability to set the compensation levels for director-level staff.

It appears, however, that the Mayor isn't too keen on the plan, contending that it will create "an adversarial government," pitting the Mayor against the Administrator. Her consternation is somewhat understandable given that Alderman Israel's motivation is "an election does not guarantee that a mayor will have the managerial skills needed to effectively supervise the delivery of routine municipal services." Ouch.

In a certain way, it may have a freeing effect on a Mayor, like this one, who refuses to make tough hiring and firing decisions in the face of repeated administrative incompetence. Once enacted those responsibilities would clearly be the purview of the Administrator. The irony here is that if this bill passes, and the Mayor is stripped of authority, it will be precisely because the sitting Mayor failed to exercise the authority she does have and put an end to the string of embarrassing project mismanagement that has dogged her Administration.

The amendment will likely be introduced at tomorrow's Council meeting.

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