Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Speaking of context...

Alternate title:

"Take this out of context, then put that into the context of this out of context section of the city charter, and there you have it."

The other day I was listening to Vincent David Jericho's radio show on KSGF. I do that often. If that's enough to turn the reader off at the outset then excuse me if I fail to lose any sleep over someone else's personal problem (phhbbtthh). That's not what this post is about.

Vince mentioned a memo that was floating around City Hall. It didn't sound right to me and so I wrote it down so I could inquire about it later. Here is what I wrote down as quoted by Vincent David Jericho:

"Any information or material being sent to the Mayor and members of the City Council must be approved by the City Manager or the Assistant City Manager before it's sent to Council members."

I think I just figured something out. You see, when I asked for a copy of the memo, the city's Public Information Director told me she hoped I would

"provide the following context to this, which was to reaffirm the provision of the City Charter noted below.... :"
city council memo process

Section 2.8. Prohibition of interference

Neither the council nor any of its members shall direct or request the appointment of any person to, or his removal from, office by the city manager or by any of his subordinates, or in any way interfere with the appointment or removal of officers and employees in the administrative service of the city. Except for the purpose of inquiry, unless specifically otherwise provided in this Charter, the council and its members shall deal with the administrative officers and services solely through the city manager, and neither the council nor any member thereof shall give orders to the subordinates of the city manager, either publicly or privately. Any councilmember violating the provisions of this Section shall forfeit his office. Whether such violation has occurred shall be determined by the members of the council, and their decision shall be final. Approved by vote of the people April 1, 1986.

I have emphasized that particular verbage of Section 2.8 of the Charter to highlight the fact that the City has taken it out of its intended context to provide context to a wholly unrelated matter.

I cannot see that the sharing of information and materials between officers and employees in the administrative service of the city has anything to do with the intent of Section 2.8 of the Charter which is on the topic, when kept in context, of council members interfering with the appointment or removal of officers and employees in the administrative service of the city.

That's what this entry was about, just so you know. :)

Now, here is the entire memo, just as an FYI:

TO: Management Team
Management Team Secretaries

FROM: Evelyn Honea, Assistant City Manager

RE: Process for Sending Material/Information to Mayor and City Council

DATE: June 25, 2007


Any information or material being sent to the Mayor and members of City Council MUST be approved by the City Manager or Assistant City Manager BEFORE it is sent to Councilmembers.

To avoid confusion, please use the procedure outlined below:

1. Any memo or other information should be e-mailed to Evelyn Honea or Bob Cumley for approval. Please provide a hard copy if it is not possible to e-mail the material.

2. You will be notified of Bob/Evelyn's approval or asked to make changes. If asked to make changes, please resubmit the corrected material for approval.

3. Upon approval, please provide 13 copies to the City Manager's Office for distribution to Council. A member of the City Manager's staff will deliver the material to the Council mailboxes. (The 13 copies include: 9 for Mayor and Council, 1 for the media folder, 1 for the City Clerk, 1 for the City Manager, and 1 for the Assistant City Manager.)

4. Mail is only delivered to the Mayor and City Council on Wednesday afternoons at 4:00 p.m., prior to City Council meeting every other Monday night, and at Tuesday luncheons. Please keep this schedule in mind when communicating with Councilmembers.

Thank you for your cooperation and assistance with this process.


cc: Bob Cumley, City Manager
Brenda Cirtin, City Clerk
Anita Murphy Cotter, Assistant City Clerk


Momma Twoop said...

Jacke, doesn't that memo leave you with a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach? It does me.

"Any info. or material....must be approved by the City Manager...." before it goes on to its intended recipient, IF IT GOES, that is.

Are there any regulations concerning the grounds on which "any info. or material" can be "disapproved" to your knowledge? Is it left up to the whim of the City Manager? My, my...that would make him/her the most powerful person in city government!

Jacke M. said...

That memo was sent just a few days before the assistant City Manager, Evelyn Honea, was promoted to Deputy City Manager.

You raise a good question about "regulations concerning the grounds on which "any info. or material" can be "disapproved."

I'm sure the Public Information Director will be happy to answer that question when she gets back from vacation. *Ahem*

Momma Twoop said...

Hmmm...nothing like taking a portion of law out of context to increase your own power. How novel!

All of which brings us to another pertinent question.

If someone sends "info. or material" to the Mayor/Councilpersons and there are no Deputy/Asst. City Managers, or THE City Manager, around to approve it, was it ever really sent at all? heh heh

Think the PIO will be keen on answering that one, too? When she gets back from her R&R, of course.

Anonymous said...

City employees who wish to bypass the three or four city managers, can send fraud and public corruption information directly to the Attorney General's Office, who is watching a number of situations in Springfield rather closely.