Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Concerning the drive for 5 on council -- from 9

We need people to write laws. Those people should be on city council. Then we need managers. They should be in the Mayor's Administration. Then we need journalist watchdogs. They should work at various places with editors who can see the big picture. Finally, we'll need voters to hire the right people for the right jobs.

Recently, our city council has been doing to much work for individual constituents. This happens because the Mayor's office has been kissing but with PNC, gambling, and the Rooneys -- All Stars, etc.

Then we have overlords who are out to lunch and bailouts that are worthless. The whole system is a mess.

My hope is that a cut to five on council will work to make council do only what it should -- and not be the mayor's complaint center (which all got the ax).


Anonymous said...

A dip to 5 wouldn't do anything but hurt the city, the council at 9 gives people better representation and better attention. The savings wouldn't even be that big if you cut it back. The savings wouldn't be worth it.

Mark Rauterkus said...

That's my point. You missed it. PEOPLE and giving PEOPLE attention is NOT the real role of city council. Council is there to write laws. Laws are not written for individual people.

If you want better attention -- get less on council and give more to the mayor's office. The mayor's office is where people should get their attention and where management gets done.

If you really want to keep hurting the city -- have every which person do every which job and the real duties don't get done and the city crumbles further.

Anonymous said...

You make a good point. So much of what council and there staff due is case work type stuff that they generate because they go out looking for complaints that they can then take credit for rectifying. It is all work that should be done by the administration.

Maria said...

Laws do not get written in a vacuum, and it's easier for one person to know a good deal about one chunk of the city than for one person to know all about the entire city. People often go to their state legislature instead of directly to the governor or to their congressperson instead of to the president. That's representative government.

That said, City Council is under more duress because the mayor's service center was shut down. I don't see how reducing the size of council will ameliorate that.

Mark Rauterkus said...

Of course laws don't get written in a vacume. And, five is not a vacume.

It is easier to write a great law with five than to do so with nine.

It is much easier to do a good job with crafting legislation among those who are focused on crafting legislation than to do so with a bunch of people who are scratching the backs of individuals.

You could put a roomful of monkeys before typewriters and not get them to ever write a line of Shakespeare.

Of course the folks on council are under more strain from the citizens now that the Mayor's Service Center closed.

By all means, we are on a bad downward trail of many wrongs following many others. So, to reverse the course, we've got to do a lot.

So, if you cut out four on council and shift them and their aids (an additional 2 or more each) (total > 12) into the mayor's complaint center -- we'd have a win/win. Better service to the citizens and better legislation too.

Anonymous said...

This is going to go against the grain of the thread, but perhaps more representation is the solution?

Make more representation, BUT, reduce the salary/benefits of the position. Involve people in government that want to be there for more than just the gravy train (that's how I see it) of being an elected official here in Pittsburgh.

More opinions, more input, more ideas, more follow through by administration, that is what makes better government --- involving the people versus the power in literally a handful of people.

Mark Rauterkus said...

Thanks for the note and thanks too for the effort to think it through.

They way to get 'more representation' is not to get more people on the boards.

More of the same is just worse, right?

What gives you any hope that MORE is going to be better than what we have? Say if we went from 9 to 21. Then we'd have more people on a 'people's congress' -- say -- instead of a council. But, I'd venture a guess that the one's on council would be the 9 there now and each of their aids too.

Twanda C, Tonya P, Bill P, Jim M, Doug S, and a bit Len B, (via D party) -- ALL were able to climb the ladder via city politics with aid status too past members on council.

The gravy train just grew, IMHO.

Meanwhile, there are other forms of representative government that would guarantee diversity.

In county council, one from EACH of TWO PARTIES must be elected at large. In the old 3 county commissioner system, 2 were of one party and the 3rd always was of another.

Even in US & PA House, the majority party can't take all the plum jobs as there are built-in roles for the other old-party representatives.

If one LIBERTARIAN got elected out of 9, (just for the sake of discussion) there would be a real shift in the discussion and the hope of change would be significant. But, one out of 21 would only be a pimple on the butt of a democratic mascot.

If you want real representation -- and you may mean diversity -- we can talk. How about 5 on council where no more than 2 are from the same political party. Then you'd have 2 Ds, 1 R, 1 L, and 1 G (or one such composition).

Furthermore, instant-run-off elections is one other serious way to pick members of council. That would help greatly. Same too with percentage voting. Same too with real campaign finance reform.

Bigger, like 'queen for a day' seems to be much worse.

Mark Rauterkus said...

One way that I've advocated for getting more representation in local political landscape is to make a new council -- for dealing with PARKS & RECREATION.

Let's take Citiparks off of Grant Street. Let's for a new branch of government -- called a Park District. Let's insist upon sunshine laws and such.

Then, we'd have a board of elected trustees and a board of volunteers for a park congress.

Then we'd have new roles for these folks -- with a focus on parks, playgrounds, sports participation, coaching, community assets, afterschool, etc.

That way the scope of city council shrinks. They've ignored the kids anyway.