There are times when it is darn near impossible to figure out a politician’s actions. I know because I am officially a candidate for third ward alderman in DeKalb so that makes me a politician — at least until I turn in my withdrawal from candidacy papers.
A few hours after I turned in my petition packet Katie Dahlstrom of the Daily Chronicle called to confirm I was running for 3rd ward. She asked why so I told her that the first reason was because the city is in trouble and then because the former city clerk (as keeper of the public record) that took $10,000 in severance pay with confidentiality clauses should have a challenge.
She then confirmed that Mike Marquardt had turned in a petition. From the moment I was encouraged to run because somebody had to do it or he’d [Kapitan] run unopposed I told people if I did I would withdraw if another candidate surfaced. I told Dahlstrom I’d withdraw but might wait a bit for paperwork to clear.
The reporter asked how the city was in trouble and what would I do to fix it. I gave her cliff quotes that she didn’t print.
Here’s the long hand version:
I’d work towards staying within our means I’d work to build a consensus to zero fund any requests for new administrative hires in the upcoming fiscal year budget. There is a significant dependency in the general fund for TIF dollars that are soon expiring. I’d build consensus to require senior staff to reduce the need for that fund transfer on a prorated basis. For next year let’s not spend anything on expert consultants and OPM* visionaries and just concentrate on what it takes to provide government services efficiently and effectively.
At the first meeting I’d introduce a new term called replacement revenue to lower dependency on taxes. The whole idea behind that is to explore alternative revenue streams for abatement instead of new spending. While that language may sound foreign when implemented it makes people happier and DeKalb business friendlier, too. See example.
Another top priority is the office of city clerk. It needs to be fully restored as an office independent of the city manager and the mayor and city council. In restoring the office the council should add language that would set minimum standards or accreditation (similar to tax assessor) to prevent the election of an unqualified candidate – must be able to take minutes or tell support staff to do it. This would not add costs to the general fund. It could reduce the total of all current expenditures required.
Get the city business friendly again and one way to do that is get the city attorney out of doing the clerk’s job. It is not cost efficient to pay attorney rates for clerk duties. It was ill advised to ask the city attorney to write sweeping changes to ordinances related to commercial property. The cost of that undertaking had to have been huge if total staff man-hours were added up. It wasted an enormous amount of the council’s time and attention. The businesses and commercial property owner/operators also spent a lot of their time and resources defending their local investments. Hopefully I could build a consensus to stop that nonsense from happening again.
The council does too much business behind closed doors and the public’s business should be done above the table where all can see. The commercial property inspection fiasco smells of back room discussion that makes me wonder if it didn’t start with the termination of three employees and the decision to outsource their duties. I guarantee this: I would blow the whistle so loud every time the public’s business was discussed improperly that they’d stop doing it. I probably wouldn’t get many Christmas cards from my peers either.
Truth is I really can’t afford the time away from trying to make ends meet and get ahead with my business. For the time being I’m not healthy enough to take on the additional stress. That’s why I wasn’t planning on running for anything in this election but when presented with the scenario of Kapitan returning to the chambers unopposed I felt I didn’t have a choice. I’ve done this sort of thing before with the landfill and home rule issues so it must be in my DNA.
I live in a glass house and I’m not throwing stones at Steve, personally. It’s about job performance. Results.
I know nothing to little about Mike Marquardt other than people I respect say he is a good man. That and a dollar will get him a cup of coffee at most local restaurants. Third ward voters well remember the Vic Wogen era and if they don’t let this serve as a reminder. Marquardt will need to convince third ward voters that he’s their guy or they’ll stay home and put up a for sale sign. If that happens the lemmings win. The one thing made clear to me as I knocked doors and got signatures was how fed up people are with the nonsense at DeKalb city hall.
Even if healthier I wouldn’t be a spoiler in a race so important.
So my brief career as a politician was short lived. Or was it? In any event I am the one politician that kept his word. I said I would drop out if another legitimate candidate emerged. I did.
DeKalb County Online readers can look for my continued coverage of local government and politics. Do you wonder who the editorial board of Gracie and I would have endorsed for third ward? I don’t.
Long and short of it… Local government must make some fundamental changes. Look at the number of uncontested races throughout the many local governmental units in DeKalb County. Worse yet count the seats where no candidate at all filed. The days of the penny-wise pound-foolish voter (and local politician) must come to an end. These boards especially those charged with collective bargaining and/or bond indebtedness cannot be filled with volunteers or be a financial burden for those elected servants either. They don’t stand a chance against trained, seasoned professionals who are very good at convincing them to “just raise the taxes.”
No one benefits from mediocrity except those who take advantage of it.
PS: Local candidates for the 2015 elections: Please send your announcements and campaign press releases and rss feed paths to us via our contact form. Yes, Virginia, some things in life are still free.
* OPM = Other People’s Money