Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Weak mayor? Pat McCrory opines. In California.

Hmm. Ex-Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory, a Republican who's almost certainly running for governor again in 2012, has written an opinion piece for, of all things, the Sacramento Bee:
"Strong mayor or not, it's still the bully pulpit."

It seems Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson is pushing to turn the office, in California's capital city, into a full-time, strong mayor form of government. And the local paper there (a McClatchy Co. sister paper to the Obs) requested the opinion of another non-fulltime mayor.

For those of you not deeply into local politics, here's a primer on strong/weak mayor systems: In cities such as Charlotte that have a "council-manager" form of government, the mayor's doesn't hire or fire anyone or run any city departments. A professional city manager does that. The council makes the decisions such as policy, and hiring/firing the city manager. In Charlotte the mayor doesn't even have a vote on the council, except in a few instances (ties, rezonings with protest petitions, etc.) Charleston's Joe Riley, Boston's Tom Menino, Chicago's Richard Daley are all "strong mayors," – they function as the chief city administrator.

McCrory concludes: "Regardless of the powers to the mayor's office it will be the mayor who will get the blame or the credit for what happens in a city. Deserved or not."

There are pros and cons to each type of government. Strong mayors can be more effective in changing city policy – witness Daley's success at and worldwide acclaim for repositioning Chicago as a "green" city. City managers tend not to want to be strong enough leaders to get out in front of those who hire/fire them, which can lead to a sense that no one is leading the city – which was a recurring criticism during McCrory's tenure. And with the job being a (wink-wink) "part-time" one, the post is only going to attract people who are wealthy, retired, self-employed, have very understanding bosses or have a job or whose pay is so low the mayor's pay is a step up.

On the other hand, strong mayors can use their power to reward political allies and punish foes, even to a greater extent than "weak mayors." (They can all do that, believe me.) And an inept or crooked strong mayor can do a lot more damage than an inept or crooked weak mayor.

My conclusion is that I'd like a strong mayor system if we had a mayor I liked and I'd hate it if we had a mayor I didn't. And that's not really all that helpful.


wiley said...

So what is really the point of your article?

We don't need a fulltime Mayor in Charlotte.

jeff said...

Yeah, lets look how mayor daily, a democrat, has transformed Chicago almost into a warzone. You leftist so called journalists are pathetic!!! The people of Chicago are killing each other in record numbers but you have to mention how "green" the city is and its all because of the great mayor Daily. He is a joke and so are you!!!

James said...

Chicago?! Get over yourself.