Again we see our obstructive Oak Harbor City Council in action.
Recently Mayor Dudley appointed a new city attorney as a full time city employee to replace the interim attorney. The City Council has refused to confirm this appointment. This is 3 or 4 to zero in confirming the Mayors appointments without obstruction. (Correction: The City Council approved ONE appointee without obstruction, Larry Cort.)
Let’s go back a bit in recent time to when the City Council approved a new rule that allows the City Council to confirm the Mayors appointments. Since inception Oak Harbor has allowed it’s Mayor the sole ability to hire and fire administrative personel under his control until this new rule by the council. This new rule was adopted with some controversy as this allows the council to control who works under the Mayor’s control and for the citizens of Oak Harbor. Remember the City Attorney and management personnel works for the Mayor and the citizens in this city not the council. The Mayor is elected as our executive officer and all city management personnel work directly under his control. The council has thrown a wrench into this process by voting in themselves the ability to confirm those appointees. Now the Mayor is faced with hiring an employee under his direct control but having to go through our obstructive City Council to actually hire that employee. There has not been one appointee for a position chosen by our Mayor that has not been rejected or obstructed by this council with the exception of Larry Cort.
The city council created this problem all by themselves by allowing themselves to confirm the Mayors appointees. It was never this way in the history of Oak Harbor until the vote on confirming appointees by the council. Now we have a council that outright rejects all of the Mayors chosen appointees that will work under his direction making the Mayor choose someone that he feels is not suitable for the job and for whatever reason he feels is not fitting for the citizens of Oak Harbor.
This is nothing more than an attempt by the council to obstruct the Mayor in his lawful responsibility in hiring city administrative personnel that work for him the Mayor and the citizens of Oak Harbor and not the City Council.
The next step we will see from the council is an attempt to change the form of government that our city currently has. There has been mention in the past for the city of Oak Harbor to change from a strong Mayor form of government to a weak Mayor form that uses a city administrator as the chief administrative officer. This action would take the responsibility from the Mayor in hiring and firing administrative personnel and place it under the control of the City Council. This would leave our Mayor as a figurehead only and leave all power in the hands of this obstructive City Council.
Seeing the ongoing obstruction and childishness from the City Council this leaves one to wonder whether this idea is a good idea at all. We already have a city council that is playing political favorites with appointees so why in the world would the citizens of Oak Harbor ever consider giving this council even more power than they have already voted themselves to have.
For a little more history on this issue here is a link to a letter to the editor in the Whidbey news Times authored by Christon Skinner on 9-23-2012:
In the article he states:
“Many cities as large as ours operate with their city administrator as the chief administrative officer in charge of personnel and budget, while the mayor acts as a figurehead. Those professional administrators serve at the will of the city council so legislative oversight is still a key element of the system.”
“Perhaps it’s time that the citizens of Oak Harbor gave serious consideration to changing its form of government. The “strong mayor” form of government we currently use is no longer viable for Oak Harbor. It is best suited for small communities like Coupeville and Langley where budgets are smaller and personnel numbers run two to three to a department.”
“We need a form of government that utilizes well educated, experienced, professional administrators to deal with large numbers of personnel and multi-million dollar budgets. What we don’t need is more expensive and unguided decisions that are based solely on political promises.”
This would be a horrible option for Oak Harbor, we currently have a strong Mayor that is directly elected by the citizens to perform the administrative functions that would be replaced by a city administrator and our Mayor is answerable directly to the citizens. Instead of being responsible to the citizens as our mayor is currently this new administrator would not be chosen by a vote of the people, he would be chosen and controlled completely by the City Council. Remember, this is the same city council that has enacted restrictive confirmation votes on the Mayors appointees that they have used as a hatchet in attacks against the Mayor. They have created this issue and they have used it politically to attack a Mayor elected by the people. The council has acted irresponsibly with the power they have voted themselves to have so why in the world would anyone vote to give them even more unchecked power?
We need to look at our Council members and not the system of Government we have in Oak Harbor. These obstructive City Council members need to be replaced as soon as possible and replaced with those who are more concerned about the citizens in Oak Harbor than with who holds the power to obstruct.
Here is a list of the City Council members that have voted to obstruct the Mayors appointments:
Rick Almberg- Position 3- Current term: 2012 through 2015
Beth Munns- Position 2- Current term: 2012 through 2015
Tara Hizon- Position 1- Current term: 2012 through 2015
*Bob Severns- Position 4- Current term: 2010 through 2013
*Joel Servatius- Position 5- Current term: through 2013
Here are the City Council members that have voted to confirm the Mayors appointments:
*Danny Paggao- Position 7- Current term: 2010 through 2013
*Jim Campbell- Position 6- Current term: 2010 through 2013
*Up For Election This Year
It is clear who needs to go and who needs to stay in our City Council, we have already seen someone announce a run against Bob Severns, his name is Luke Yonkman and there are rumors of several people running against Joel Servatius. Please give these new candidates a look, we need to have reasonable responsible citizens step up and replace the Council Members who have made their actions one of obstruction in this city administration. Oak Harbor deserves better than what we have.
Edited on 4-3-13 to reflect the fact that the Council had approved one of the Mayors appointees without contentious obstructive behaviour, that was Larry Cort.