Who Does City Council Represents?
As we approach the upcoming April election for three City Council seats, here is an interesting way to look at City Council, who they represent, and for whom they should be working. Please consider the following as you select the candidates for whom you are planning to vote:
As I see it, for the purpose of who City Council represents or works for, we can break down four distinct groupings of people .
- First Group: The Citizens of Glendale.
- Second Group: The Council members themselves.
- Third Group: The Glendale City Employees.
- Forth Group: Special Interests.
(Some people may fall into more than one grouping. However, let’s just consider his/her main grouping as we would see them for the sake of this discussion.)
Now, considering the four groups, the basic question to be asked is:
For which of the group(s) should the City Council be working?
Of course, an easy answer! One should most likely reply, Group One! The Citizens of Glendale. That is the idealistic, warm and fuzzy answer and also the correct one!! In very basic terms, the City of Glendale is classified as a Republic form of Government. (Republic definition: A form of government in which power is explicitly vested in the people, who in turn exercise their power through elected representatives.)
But, and it’s a big but, in reality which Group (or Groups) is the current Council actually representing? And, in looking at this, first look at the Council as a whole, and then, very importantly, look at each individual Council Member as a person acting independently. Now, let’s look at the other three Groups and their relationship to the Council.
Group Two, the Council members themselves. Human nature tells us that most people like power and have a survival instinct. So, look at the Council members and see which ones are representing themselves for the power they have or are setting themselves up for a higher office. Which ones are most interested in surviving in the position, not for the Citizens’ benefit, but for their own personal agenda?
Too many Members of Council are prone to representing their own personal interests ahead of the Citizens’ interests, when it comes to acquiring power (money, prestige’, etc.), keeping his/her seat on the Council, or getting elected to a higher office.
How about Group Three, the City Employees? Isn’t the Council suppose to represent the City Employees? No. Other than insuring that the work place is safe and the employees’ basic needs are met, the Council should not be obligated to the employees. In theory anyway, the Council’s purpose is to represent you to the Employees as their employer, their Boss, their Manager.
Unfortunately, powerful City Employee Unions have gotten control of some Council Members through donations and support at election time. The City Employees use some Council members in reverse, becoming a represented Group of the Council!
City Employees should not be a represented group…they are employees. For example, the Council should be your negotiator at salary time and do what is right for the Citizens and the City first, then the Employees. Please note: The City Manager is just an employee, yet he and his staff appear to run the City Council. The City appears to be a place where, to use a common expression, the tail wags the dog!
And, finally, Group Four, Special Interest Groups. Should the City Council represent Special Interest Groups? Probably not, unless there is some overall benefit to all the Citizens.
Things to look at:
Please be aware of the Candidate’s sponsors and donors. Money talks and gets favors. For example, when the Candidate accepts support from Group Three, City Employees, think about this: Nobody gives money or time supporting a Candidate without expecting something in return. In the case of City Employees, they expect to get salary raises and additional benefits. They don’t donate just because it makes them feel good!
And, donations from Group Four, Special Interests…well, I don’t think I have to tell you what that means.
OK, keeping in mind the four Groups, please look again at the City Council Candidates and ask yourself, who do, or will these candidates represent?? Is the Candidate going to represent you, or them self, or the City Employees, or some special Interest Group? And finally, please keep in mind that some candidates will say/promise anything to get the power or survive in office. If you can, look at actions, not words!!