Swinging Richards, Part 2

Here’s the follow-up I promised to Monday’s post.

Before Hollywood’s city fathers began their pious condemnation of wayward city manager Douglas Hewett for the sin of getting caught drunk while driving home from a gay strip bar on Easter morning, Hollywood-based Balance Sheet Blog called for his removal, citing a document entitled The International City Managers Association (ICMA) Code of Ethics, which specifies “exemplary conduct in both personal and professional matters.”

(For what it’s worth, here’s the ICMA code.  I can’t locate that specific boy scout toned clause myself, but given the worthlessness of such a self-serving, vapid document, I suspect it’s irrelevant anyway.)

While Hollywood running its CM out on a rail (about a month after Miami Beach conducted the same exercise, but for different reasons), here’s what was (or wasn’t) going on up in Ft. Lauderdale’s executive suites:

While many people would feel lucky receiving a 4% or 6% employer salary contribution into their retirement accounts, 25 city workers are getting 27.71% this year….The rate is more than triple the 9% salary contribution the city offers to most new employees — a difference this year that will cost taxpayers about $438,000 to cover.

The employees include City Manager Lee Feldman, some department heads, assistant city attorneys, assistant city managers, commissioner aides and others in the offices of the city clerk and city auditor.

Dominic M. Calabro, president of Florida TaxWatch, said Fort Lauderdale‘s rate was unjustifiable.  “These kind of excessive executive perks undermine the very legitimacy of public service,” Calabro said. “Twelve percent is pretty generous; 27% is ridiculous.”

Feldman said most of the employees are “at will” workers not covered by contract, civil service or collective bargaining. Many are management-level and the benefit is part of an overall package needed to be more competitive with the private sector, officials said. — Sun-Sentinel  (my emphasis)

Got it?  More “exemplary conduct.”  The city’s top executive face-deep in the trough instead of alerting his employers to a gross inequity in the system he himself administers.  Now there’s public service in action.    Hilariously, his rationale is they need to compete with compensation available in the private sector.

They’re not nearly as smart, entrepreneurial, dedicated, or hard working as their colleagues (hardly “peers”) in the private sector.  They’re generally career bureaucrats whose singular skill seems to be their capacity to maneuver through the bullshit of their own manufacture.  While they manipulate taxpayer money, one another, and the elected officials whose asses they’re obligated to suck, the business of running the city becomes a mere afterthought.   While they play off one another’s political favorites against each other, the trash doesn’t get picked up, the streets don’t get repaired, and the schools go to hell.

This is your government.  Go look at it.  See it for yourself when you file for a permit or try to get a contract executed.  Go stand in line and observe their work ethic.  Listen in on a lunchtime conversation and find out what’s important to them on a daily basis.

And up there at the top of Dung Mountain is where the city manager perches.  The one who started his storied careers among the drones and political appointees, learning quickly that efficiency and dedication are secondary considerations to promotion and career advancement.  The one who’s so irreplaceable he gets 27%  paid into his pension so he doesn’t bolt for the private sector.

And Hollywood’s CM gets the boot, why?

The system is broken, and the fix far too costly and time-intensive.  It would require a concentrated effort on the part of the citizenry — that’s the desperate, struggling asshats like you and me trying to get through each day and stay on top of the bills — to clean this shit out, rewrite the rules, and find replacements who take seriously the mission of public service.  Nothing to it, right?

And for Christmas, I want a horsey and a fire truck, too.

[photo credit: “Shit Heap Sheep”]

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6 Responses to Swinging Richards, Part 2

  1. Ted Williams' Head says:

    Yeah yeah fine. The people running government — any government — are a bunch of greedy self-serving bastards whose career goal is work as little as possible, retire at the first opportunity, and suck down as much pension money as they can. Are you new around here? Did you think this was something unusual and shocking? Have you been dwelling in a cave for the last century?

    Inquiring (and detached) minds want to know.

  2. Pingback: » Episode 26: Cascade of Problems On The Fence

  3. Will B. Donne says:

    I don’t want to get into the whole big discussion of bad-ass government workers. But I do want to say that Hollywood’s ouster of the CM makes a lot of sense if they’re trying to get people to take them seriously as a governing body. It makes it clear they’re not willing to tolerate any nonsense, whether at the office or outside, if it’s going to make them look bad. What’s wrong with that?

  4. Living Will says:

    I couldn’t find that language in the ICMA document either. But I found this reference which suggests it might have been part of a preamble, or an earlier draft of the code.

    The larger point — that this is just the sort of spin and shine self-governing groups apply to themselves for their own self-image and personal sense of grandeur — is obvious to me as well. Ink on paper. Every slimebucket attorney, banker, accountant, teacher, etc. who signs some sort of document like this and ends up fired for cause or imprisoned is another indication that it’s crap..

  5. Elemenno P says:

    The Hollywood thing looks like a pretty concocted reason to fire an employee. The Ft Lauderdale situation is about par for the course: people in his position will get away with whatever they can as often as they can. Which I agree is your point about the joke that is called “public service.”

  6. Frank of Oregon says:

    I like the “at will” business — like it’s some kind of hardship they endure. In the real world, everybody is “at will” — the owner/boss doesn’t like you, you’re fired. This doesn’t seem to make an impression on people in government positions.

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