Is the city of Kingston ready for a slightly different form of government?
We have been doing some research and would like to share and open a discussion on the ‘Weak’ Mayor/City Council/City Manager option. In this LINK, please scroll down to read one definition of “Weak Mayor/Council” and “Council/Manager. We invite you to do a little research on your own and report back here. With everything seemingly on the table these days, we figure – why not? Having a highly qualified city manager on board might be a very welcome change.
6 thoughts on “Thoughts On A New Form Of Government in Kingston?”
Yes, now THAT is interesting. I am a strong supporter of process, of organization… it operates, always, at least as a powerful catalyst in all our endeavors, often slowing us down, and sometimes uncannily thrusting us ahead.
Something in the current process has supported us getting the representatives we have and a mayor whose effect is often toxic to the energies a city needs to thrive. When a city needs technology, when citizens groups need recognition and inclusion, when the city needs smart management on crime or infrastructure, as opposed to strong, weak, or just absent, if the CEO isn’t adept, then ideas that percolate to the top get lost.
And there is great new blood joining the city counsel! And we need more.
But let me note: there are ward groups set up for communication, but there is very little contribution and it may be there is very very little readership.
Are the citizens getting information at all? If so, where? Do they want the information? Where do we go to speak, where do we go to listen?
As to process, is our mayor system weak, or just our mayor? And with new council blood that gets elected on merit and not coattails, change is on the way, and with that, surely the process itself can be examined and improved.
huzzah for Kingston!
Good points all around. Most resonating with me is your observation of where people speak and where we listen. There’s the rub, right? Citizens have become disconnected from local government. They rally only when taxes rise or safety is jeopardized. There is no steady flow of speaking and being heard. And that is a shame.
But there is hope, as you note. You’re walk-off spotlights that change is on the way. And that is a good thing.
The lines of communication between residents & business owners with City Government have broken down. The aldermen should be reaching out instead of waiting to hear when something is wrong in their neighborhoods. Some of them already do, others do not. Information is power and sharing it empowers everyone to make the changes we need. They represent the People, that is the role of the office. Having Ward meetings, sharing what is on the horizon can only help all of us be better neighbors to each other. Great ideas come from them!
I’m often reminded of the processes described in Death and Life of Great American Cities. And then there are the Galapagos Islands and both of these processes point to how life flows. From the years back when Town of Kingston was blockaded by the formation of Town of Ulster so as to combat ruffianism, the Hudson on one side, the mountains on the other, no train… attitudes have “settled” in Kingston and stagnated, with never enough of a strong flow, IBM notwithstanding. And for all that is called “KIngston”, so little of this area actually is “Kingston”…
This new “rush” of people, good people, talented at communication and an affection for the commonweal, I think change is coming. Yes, and part of that “river”, that flow, is the internet.
The internet is for many is “where we talk and where we listen”. And that is where Art and Rebecca have made such a brilliant addition, creating excellent community spaces. Hoping that many more will come.
Here’s the history on this issue in Kingston. Under Mayor Gallo, we had the passage of what was publicly BILLED as a “Strong Mayor” arrangement. Kingston has always had this in essence but the idea was to strengthen it–make it a full-time position, justify a full time salary, etc. However what was lost in this billing was that the key person running the financial day to day operations, ie, comptroller, now became appointed by the council, thus in fact weakening the power of the Mayor in this regard. And of all the positions one has to understand that in the city of Kingston where all such appointments are basically the product of everyone winking in agreement and when someone disagrees, there is behind the scenes activity to balance out the perceived imbalance–this is out of sync with an ideal to render the Mayor fully responsible for all that he does. In other words in practice this means if John Tuey tomorrow decided to become a cocaine addict and lose so much focus on what he was doing the books soon became a total mess, the Mayor could not have sole say over the next person appointed, assuming that would happen under such conditions(which is a large assumption to begin with).
So–here’s my point after describing all this which is in some sense not relevant anyway. The issue really isn’t in practice what form of power balance exists between the Mayor and the Council;the issue is is the city or municipality run with adequate integrity–according to existing law, laws on ethics, etc. Are people being treated MOSTLY fairly or is instead MOSTLY politics and political considerations dominating the practice? The answer in Kingston has always been that politics has dominated everything–along with family influence. What is certainly the case in more recent years is that in Kingston there is also a great deal more lack of adherence to law, ethics, and even common decency than we have historically seen even under the most rough and tumble political conditions, which to me is disturbing if not alarming in some sense.
What EVERY municipality –if not EVERY ELECTED OFFICE in New York State truly needs is the power to hold a RECALL ELECTION in order to get rid of people in there who insist upon being rotten apples in terms of establishing their own “extralegal operating system.” I am thinking mostly of Mayor Sottile here but I am sure there are many more folks in similar offices throughout the state who overstep the bounds of law and decency and do so only because they think they can get away with it. It’s for these folks the power of a RECALL ELECTION PROCESS needs to be a reality in this state, but because this state has no such thing, there is no power in the hands of the people in effect so there is no reason for the public to have great confidence in that kind of situation in this cesspool of a state for politics.