Tuesday, July 3

You Get What You Pay For

Recently, there have been a lot of complaints about how our city commission does little other than rubber stamp the decisions of city staff. I wonder why we are all so surprised. I also wonder why anyone would run for such a position.

We pay our city commission nothing. We pay our mayor about $9k a year. Therefore, we have created a situation where all we can hope to get in these jobs are part-time volunteers.

I believe that our current mayor and commissioners are a group of decent, hardworking and committed volunteers. However, that is all they are. They are part time amateurs who depend on full time professional city staffers. In addition to "overseeing" a $90 Million organization (that pays them bubkis), they also have to find ways to put food on their plates and a roof over their heads. Is there any wonder why they are ineffective?

We, the people of Great Falls, have determined that we want to be governed by staff and with loose oversight by our elected public servants. When you have a deadline at work, do you put it aside to handle something going on at an organization for which you volunteer? Is it reasonable to expect more out of our commission?

Yes, they did run for those jobs. Yes, they should be held accountable for their decisions. However, we all need to realize that we are lying in a bed of our own making.


GiftShoppeGuy said...


You brought up some very good points tonight at the meeting..
I hope the commission gives a bit of thought to your comments.

WolfPack said...

I agree with much of your analysis. The only real decisions we need to get out of our commissioners is the selection of a competent city manager and/or holding a poor manager accountable which hasn't happen for quite a while.

Treasure State Jew said...

But ... is that all we really need out of our elected commission? Personally, I think that a reconstituted elected body could be much more responsive to we the people than a hired manager.

Anonymous said...

Just read TSJ.....I thought commissioners did receive some
> compensation,
> as that was a point against more commissioners being added, thereby
> increasing city expenses.
> You're right, we do 'get what we pay for' BUT that's not what we
> need to accept. What's the cost of not compensating commissioners
> fairly? We get an asylum run by the 'inmates' and I've seen this
> situation in military reserve units, where even the part-time
> commissioned
> officers 'abdicate' their authority to the full-time staff sergeant
> at the armory during the week.
> The reservist is fairly paid, but for a reserve leader to do his
> duty well, then there are many days other than drill weekend that
> tasks, reports and training plans must be prepared, with occasional
> estra drill pay offered.
> Consider all the studies this commission has 'commissioned' (how
> about the $45K water/sewage study never completed and examined before
> the commission voted 7 Jun for water/sewage for the coal plant?),
> wouldn't we be better off spend several thousand bucks up front
> so the commissioners DO their duty? They are honorable citizens who
> volunteer, but they must be a more reflective, critical-thinking
> body than they are now.............Democracy deserves better....
Finally, the Tribune headline last year ran the proclamation 'LAWTON SELECTS POLICE CHIEF'....what does that tell you? In most municipalities the commission, council or elected board should have the good judgement and capability to make that selection as a collective body, NOT one staff member.....the 'staff' should have provided a 'short list' for commissioners to decide upon.......it's not rocket science and commissioners could easily review 'read ahead' packages just like reserve unit commanders do for promoting sergeants in their command......it CAN be done if we
have the will. IF.