Let City Manager continue to manage
I write to urge all of you to vote No on the proposed City Charter amendment, Measure 3-552. At the very least, all voters should take a hard look at the actual language of this ballot measure to imagine its potential negative consequences.
This measure was pushed forth by three city councilors who are stuck in the past and not moving the City of West Linn forward in any way. Last week I testified at the West Linn City Council Meeting to express my sincere concerns about the effect of the measure, which seeks to take power away from the City Manager.
Specifically, Measure 3-552 adds text into our City Charter, which is our city's own little Constitution, to make Section 23 state that "[t]he City Manager has no control, however, over the office of the City Attorney." The Ballot Title makes the effect of this language crystal clear: "The City Manager shall coordinate all legal matters with (the City) Council."
What would be the implications of this sort of language and intent incorporated into our Charter? Well, the City Manager would lose access to the City Attorney until he or she obtains City Council approval to engage with legal counsel on every single issue that arises. The City Manager would lose her ability to direct or influence the City Attorney. The City Manager would not be able to oversee the City Attorney's performance on legal matters that affect the city administration, which is inherently separate from the City Council. This would be a disaster for the efficiency of our government.
The language the council majority wants to incorporate into our Charter stems purely from an irrational fear that it has that the City Manager could or might hire an attorney to work for the city administration, which is separate from the City Council. In any event, the City Council has complete and total authority over the budget for staff positions and has already defunded the in-house attorney position, rendering the effect of the measure moot.
This measure must be defeated to preserve the integrity of our Council/Manager form of government. The City Manager must be able to access legal counsel to have her questions answered and needs dealt with. A no vote on this measure will protect the City Manager, who is a qualified professional with a track record of doing the right thing, from bureaucratic micromanagement and will prevent this Council majority from executing a major power grab.
Please join me in voting no on this dangerous measure.
Rory Bialostosky is a resident of West Linn.
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