Monday, August 01, 2005

My condolences to the new City Council

It’s the eve of a primary election with plenty of activity in Flint, for sure. What I am not sure of is how many are actually paying attention, other than the friends and family networks of the current Mayor and the up-for-vote council members struggling to hang on to their wobbly thrones. I cannot imagine why those running, yet one more time, would even consider it, other than the fact that their opponents look a lot like Don – I mean, a lot like Don.

Even still, when will these chaos junkies get sick and tired of being sick and tired? Isn’t inevitable that Don is going to get his way, by hook or by crook?

I’m still dumbfounded by the 6.27.05 public hearing where two-thirds of the Flint Council Chambers was filled with alleged Williamson supporters. I cannot imagine that Don Williamson would have any credibility, let alone supporters, based upon his conduct in office. Is it enough to send out a truck to collect trash in a neighborhood - his own truck, mind you, with his own huge sign - bypassing all governmental policy, agreements and contracts? A good director of the Department of Public Works could do that!

Apparently, his clapping/whooping/cheering fans think he’s doing a great job as the top elected official in the region. The rest of the responsibilities of Flint’s highest office simply do not matter, nor do the opinions of anyone who has tried to work with him on a community project. One does not have to go far to hear outlandish behavior during private meetings, on phone calls or in public gatherings.

One woman, I will assume a Williamson supporter, was quoted in the Journal, "If the council and the mayor can't get along, then Flint will never progress." Under a strong Mayor form of government, getting along is not a requirement. Our charter calls for checks and balances under a strong Mayor. Despite the rancor, I am grateful the current “strong Mayor” does not have complete control any more than our “strong President.” Left unchecked, who knows what our community – and our nation – would experience based upon the maverick decisions of either person. Progress, more effective growth, can occur if the decisions are viewed from every angle. Questioning an egomaniacal Mayor or President about his decisions is prudent for everyone involved.

But this piece was supposed to be about the returning City Council, of which I have long considered past their prime. Their role in the financial mess blamed on former Mayor Woodrow Stanley was never properly taken into account. They escaped the bullet while Stanley went down in a recall election that damaged the entire community for a yet untold number of years. Truth is they refused to consider progressive means to handle an outdated budget. Outsourcing, especially in this town, is akin to infidelity. Borrowing against assets, even in an emergency, an unacceptable alternative even though communities across the country make it a practice on a daily basis.

And here we sit. Despite election promises, nothing really has changed at City Hall. We are still dealing with the same problems that plagued the city under Mayor Stanley. The Millionaire Businessman has proven that he is no better at solving our governmental woes.

Don Williamson isn’t about to give up, however. He wants a new City Council to do his bidding, to approve his decisions, to work with him without questions or reserve.

I, for one, think he’ll get it - by hook or by crook. My condolences to those who are elected with nothing more than an old-fashioned passion to serve their community.