The Morning Report
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Friday, September 09, 2005 | The race for mayor returned with a flurry Thursday as former police Chief Jerry Sanders announced a plan to ask 300 high-ranking city officials to offer their resignations should he grab the most votes in the Nov. 8 runoff election.
The plan was swiftly chastised by his opponent, City Councilwoman Donna Frye, for being skimpy on specifics.
Sanders proposed seeking resignation letters from those employees not protected by civil service laws, which includes the mayor’s staff, deputy city managers, department directors, assistant directors, deputy directors, program managers and management assistants.
He said he wouldn’t accept all resignations, but rather use the exercise to “flatten and streamline” city government and retain those ethical employees open to change.
“Not all of these resignations will be accepted,” Sanders said at a press conference. “There are many highly competent, hard-working managers who can contribute to change.”
Sanders didn’t offer specifics as to how many positions he would eliminate and how much money the proposal would save. He said he would make the judgment on who was ethical and open to change based on guidelines that will be formulated by his “reorganization and recovery team” and through interviews with city staff.
Frye dismissed the plan, asking her opponent: “Where’s the beef?”
Sanders linked his proposal to the strong-mayor initiative passed by voters in November. Proposition F mandated that City Hall change to a strong-mayor form of government by Jan. 1, 2006.
“The voters mandate cannot be carried out in an atmosphere where high-ranking officials are more concerned with defending their past mistakes than in adopting needed reforms,” Sanders said.
The city is under investigation by numerous local and federal agencies for possible political corruption and financial disclosure issues.
In July, Frye released her plan for structuring her office under the strong-mayor initiative. It included a detailed chart of what positions would be eliminated in what departments and reorganized department heads in a cabinet-like system. She also proposed cutting staff in the mayor’s office by 22 percent.
Frye said she already knows the government and knows what it will take to change it. “I already come assembled and ready to work,” she said.
Sanders’ proposal received mixed reviews from city officials.
“I hope he isn’t just assuming that everyone here is unqualified,” said City Manager Lamont Ewell, who plans to leave the city when the new government takes hold.
City Attorney Mike Aguirre, who has called for wholesale changes around city government, praised Sanders.
“He makes me look like a remediation midget,” Aguirre said.
Thursday’s activity was the first full day of campaign activity since the days following the July 26 primary election in which Frye and Sanders emerged from a pack of 11 candidates battling to replace former Mayor Dick Murphy. Murphy stepped down in July under the weight of the pension scandal and a legal challenge to his November victory over Frye.
Please contact Andrew Donohue at