City Council Rejects Accountability Plan

I am disappointed to report that City Council on Thursday did not adopt the Board Governance Manual we’ve been working on since February. We crafted the resolution so that an expression of support for the idea would only require a majority but that actual adoption of the explicit performance expectations would require five votes (out of concern that adopting it with only a thin majority might cause even more problems).

On a 4-3 vote (Timpeiro, Weaver, and Baroch opposed), we passed the resolution expressing support for the idea of adopting clear performance expectations for the city manager, city attorney, and municipal judge, but we did not adopt the actual performance expectations because we didn’t have a fifth vote of support.

I wrote at some length about this back in September (“City Council Retreat Update”), and there isn’t much new to say. To my mind, the issue is pretty simple. When I asked the city manager, “do you have a clear understanding of what we expect of you, and do you have a clear understanding of what you need to accomplish in order to get a good job performance review,” his answer was unequivocal: “no.” We had on the table in front of us a document that clearly spelled out performance expectations. The city manager would have known exactly what we expected of him, and everyone in the community would have had an extremely clear system with which to judge his performance. Instead we did nothing.

I remain mystified that three members of Council opposed this. Mayor Baroch didn’t explain his vote on Thursday, although comments he’s made in the past lead me to believe he voted no because he thinks our current system works. I think our current system is ok but that it could and should be much better.

Councilors Timpeiro and Weaver for the most part made arguments that I couldn’t make sense of.

I’ve run for and been elected twice to serve Golden on our City Council. On both occasions I emphasized how important it is that our city government be as transparent and accountable as possible, and in the 18 months I’ve served I am pleased about how much we’ve accomplished: City Council packets are now online, City Council agendas are now written in plain English, we broadcast and archive City Council meetings, and I regularly post to this blog, attend community meetings, and write my email update. Last week we rejected an opportunity to do even better.

As I wrote in September, if we don’t clearly define the role and performance expectations of the city manager, we don’t have any reasonable way to evaluate his performance. It’s pretty much that simple. But last Thursday – because of the opposition of three members of Council – we passed up an opportunity to do this.

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