As a former elected official, as well as a staff member and manager, I have seen the same problems arise in all of these groups.
Whether at the local, regional, state or federal level, staff members and managers develop expertise and longevity. They outlast the many different elected representatives that pass through. They are expected to enforce the policies enacted by the elected officials, but outcomes become problematic when the elected individuals are uninformed or rely too heavily upon staff and do not validate its information and recommended solutions.
This is particularly a challenge in situations where the agency or entity limits free and open discussion by its constituents, “flies under the radar,” and/or is not regularly covered by responsible and challenging media coverage.
What is the solution?
With internet coverage, Publicceo.com performs a real public benefit. Its flow of information and award for staff member analysis is read by many.
Hopefully, in the future, individuals who submit their reports to Publicceo.com will realize that their reports invite public scrutiny. If their information is lacking in validity, they will embarrass themselves and their employer. Such is the outcome for the City of La Habra Heights this February of 2010.
At the December 2009 City Council meeting, the City Council graciously removed Mr. Vos’ report from the Consent Calendar at my request and rescheduled its consideration for the February 11th City Council meeting. This gave me two months to research the statements in the report and interview knowledgeable Chief Officers of both the private La Habra Heights Volunteer Fire Department (1942 – 1979) and the City Fire Department (1980 – 2000+).
Note – there were no resources identified in Mr. Vos’ White Paper and no one had contacted any long time, fire department members in the community or the Historic Committee.
The week prior to the February meeting, I sent the final results to the City Council and copied the City Manager. In Mr. Vos’ report, there were serious discrepancies and an Addendum to his White Paper was submitted.
The final result: The Council voted unanimously to make our report and Addendum part of the permanent report along with Mr. Vos’ white paper.