Wednesday, March 04, 2009

After Mitch Johnson, What Next?

I wrote about my thoughts on the Greensboro city management situation here, and offered thoughts as to what the council should do. Last night the council ran right through steps One and Two and landed us directly at step Three. After Mitch, the council must now work to get the city back on track. I offer these further thoughts:

1. We need a strong, professional city manager. I don't know Roger Cotton. Maybe he is the right person for the job. In today's economic climate there must be many professional managers available, even if they do not come from a governmental management background. The city should cast a wide net to find the best candidate. Whoever is chosen should have some sort of employment contract beyond a month-to-month 5-4 vote of confidence from the City Council.

2. We need a strong mayor. Yvonne Johnson isn't it. She seems a competent consensus builder, but she seems unable to lead the council in any direction it needs to go. The Council would do better with her as a member, not as the Mayor.

3. We need a better, less racially-oriented council. Surely there are better candidates in Districts One and Two than we've seen in the past several elections. To TDB Small, everything seems to have a strong racial overtone, whether it is the city manager's performance, the state of sidewalks and curb-and-gutters. or the entrance to City Gardens. The district and the city deserve better.

4. I'm thinking experience may be an over-rated attribute on Council. I have a lot of respect for Robbie Perkins, but it is disconcerting that as late as last night he could not see how poor Mitch was as a manger. If Robbie is bought-and-paid-for by special interests in town, we need better. I have been very impressed with Bill Knight and his approach to city problems over the past couple of years. His perspective as a "numbers guy" is badly needed on council, and he seems to have the proper temperament as a civic leader. I hope he will again seek a council spot in the next election.

5. I don't know that it was necessarily a bad thing that two members of the Pulpit Forum chose to speak in support of Mitch last night, but it is worrisome if Mitch's departure is seen only in a racial light. IMHO, Mitch committed several firing offenses. He improperly painted the "black book" issue in racial terms to "get" David Wray. He badly mismanaged the termination of Wray. He badly mismanaged the Taping of Black Leaders issue. He allowed the witch hunt that resulted in Scott Sanders trial. At the meeting last night, there was a little discussion of the city staff not following the Council's directions (on the Jordan Lake rules). What the staff does is Mitch's responsibility. If he won't get them to follow council policies, he shouldn't be City Manager. It doesn't have to be Racial.

6. We must get beyond the black/white victim/oppressor mindset. Not every injustice and inequity is rooted in racial issues. Sometimes it's bad luck, bad precedence, and incompetence. Thinking all problems are racial is counter-productive.

1 comment:

grmapege said...

Very good thoughts--especially #6.