Thursday, April 23, 2009

Lombardo and Mayor McCallion

April 23, 2009, 8:45 a.m.

How's Your Mayor? Compared to What?
(brought to you by*)

Things are getting a little heavy around the Lombardo mystery, so to give us all a little break I thought I'd do some research on how other cities, city councils, and mayors do it.

Is there an alternative to the management style of our City Council and Mayor?

As the Henny Youngman routine might have gone: "How's your Mayor?" "Compared to what?"

Well, compared to Hazel McCallion for instance.

Mississauga, Ontario, to the west of Toronto is no small town. It's the sixth largest city in Canada.

And the citizens of Mississauga have been re-electing their mayor, Hazel McCallion, in 11 consecutive elections over the past 31 years. Asked her secret, the approachable and charming McCallion says she "never stops campaigning" and "you have to look after your people."

Not incidentally -- as our City Council confronts its ill-fated, ongoing budget process not knowing its own priorities without a consultant (see below) -- McCallion has seen to it that her city remains debt free and now has a $700 million reserve.

Clearly, Mississauga has thought through its "governance model." Standing next to a detailed miniature model of the city she explains, "That's the future; we had a plan, so we made a model."

A former professional hockey player, Hazel McCallion is now 88 years old.

Oh, and her approval rating? 92%.

Watch her interview on the CBC's "Rick Mercer Report" from February 26, 2009, and let your imagination soar to what Iowa City's future could be:

Meanwhile, the stories continue: Chris Rhatigan, "Iowa City Budget Issues Still Loom; Acting Manager Plans to Stick to Timeline," Iowa City Press-Citizen, April 23, 2009, p. A1 ("In addition to having a new leader [Dale Helling], the council will re-examine hiring a consultant to conduct a community survey on city services"); Editorial, "What Happened, I.C. Council?" The Gazette, April 23, 2009, p. A4 ("[C]ouncil members should at least publicly explain the grounds for dismissing Lombardo and the general reasoning behind their move").

And here are my earlier blog entries on Lombardo

Nicholas Johnson, "River City's Problem: Council-Manager Governance," April 18, 2009

Nicholas Johnson, "Lombardo Firing Mystery," April 21, 2009

Nicholas Johnson, "More on Lombardo and 'Public Citizens,'" April 22, 2009

* Why do I put this blog ID at the top of the entry, when you know full well what blog you're reading? Because there are a number of Internet sites that, for whatever reason, simply take the blog entries of others and reproduce them as their own without crediting the source. I don't mind the flattering attention, but would appreciate acknowledgment as the source -- even if I have to embed it myself. -- Nicholas Johnson

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