Port Orchard Independent


Why change to code city and form of government?

October 27, 2013 · Updated 9:49 AM

I am writing this letter in response to Jim Colebank’s letter to the editor on Sept. 4. Colebank states a city manager will bring consistency to our city, but in doing research on cities with city manager’s most city managers move around looking for career advancement more frequently than a mayor would. In fact, city managers have been coined with the phrase “white- collar gypsies” because they typically have no allegiance to a community.

Their resumes are continuously posted out on the city manager organization web site seeking career advancement and higher salaries looking for a “better” higher paying and career advancement position.

Colebank stated that staffing would be more consistent. City managers usually have the right to hire and fire, so they bring in their own staff that works for them and then when the city manager leaves, many of their staff follow them. Those four city managers listed in the brochure produced by Colebank, Fred Olin, Dick Davis, Dick Ziegler and Rich Peterson have fired more than 36 people after they were hired in the four communities they represent. The average job tenure (length of time) a city manager stays at one place is six years.

But averages are a very inaccurate way to inform the public on tenure. Statistically averages are highly inaccurate. Some of the same city managers that were put in the” PAC” handout Colebank, Olin, Davis and Zigler have organized have been in many jobs over the past 20 years.

The IBM report the PAC referenced to is on: “100 largest cities in the U.S. that have city managers”. How does that relate to us? Again, just siting a report doesn't mean it is valid for our city. Only one other city in Washington our size has a city manager, Kelso. Pasco is voting on Nov. 5 to change back to a mayor form of government because of the problems, especially with annexation, that Pasco has incurred. Also, please go back and read the comments made by Marcus U Lane in the” letter to the editor section” on Peterson’s letter in the POI. Excellent work and comments.

This changing Port Orchard’s current form of government will not be good for our community. First you are giving up your right to vote for your elected leader. Second, this gives too much power to the four council members that band and vote together. Read what is happening in Battleground the same type of questionable city council behavior predicted in a University of Idaho study analyzing City Manager versus Mayor forms of government.

This change in form of government you will have to live with for a minimum of 6 years, even though we were told during the hearings over this measure it could change back in 3 years if we didn’t like how it was performing. It is going to cost our city double what our current mayor costs at a minimum, and those costs will result in increased fees, utility bills and sewer charges.

The pro people are saying that between the mayor and the mayor’s assistant the cost of the city manager will almost be covered. Brandy Rinearson, our city clerk, and current mayor’s assistant has been formally trained in public record law and is vital to our city to avert potential lawsuits over public record issues. So there goes one job out the gate if this issue passes.

Port Townsend, one of the cities listed in the Pro Proposition 1 brochure has received poor ratings by the state auditor the past two years from their audits and it was stated in the state’s findings they were close to defaulting on their financial obligations. The land taxes have gone up each year for the past 5 years even though property value has declined. These are not things we need happening in Port Orchard.

With a mayor at the helm, we have been told by the council at many council meetings over the past two years, that Port Orchard has had a balanced budget, hasn't closed down for one day a week like other government facilities in our county and have provided the needed services for our people during the recession.

So, why was this change in code city and form of government merged into one measure by our council? Could it be because they can’t dictate to this mayor? Our city is in good shape financially. Do we really want to mess it up by changing our form of government and you losing your right to vote for your city leader?

Please vote “no” on Proposition No. 1.

Gerry Harmon | Port Orchard

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