I put up a post last week about Municipal Siberia – the place that one former city staffer told me that you ended up if you were a manager in the city and you dared speak the truth on a few issues. I got a lot of response on it, including this from a former member of the city’s financial management team who asked to remain anonymous:
Everybody was always so concerned about how something would be played in the press that we spent more time sanitizing it rather than just sending it out. God forbid we tell the Council or public that something wasn’t going to be done. We always had to find a way to show we were doing something with nothing … if any bad news got out, we would be “threatened” with public flogging … I remember one specific case where one of the Council members told me, “I don’t care about the rest of that stuff (meaning the ENTIRE budget), just make sure my swimming pools get funded” … nice!
It was this kind of a culture that I said needed to be changed. No number of high-paid baby-sitters, consultants, “monitors,” ethics czars or city attorneys are going to change it. The City Council must embrace a citywide outlook on issues. They can’t just think that if the little group of people that got them elected is happy, then they’re doing a good job.
That’s the culture that needs reform.
Again, the former city employee:
We (my Gen-X colleagues and I) always would say: Lets just tell them (public or whoever) what is actually happening, that shit isn’t getting done … maybe they’ll see that more revenue is needed … it was always the opposite though … a Council office would call and everyone would jump to make something happen … meanwhile the glass house was falling down around them.