12 Reasons to Reduce City Council to 8 Members

Thursday, May 31, 2007
12 Reasons

#1 The Current City Council is a bloated, unproductive, argumentative, divisive, resource draining careless entity that has very little hope of turning around on it's own.

#2 The sheer size of our Council is disruptive to productivity. 12 Executive paychecks for 4-6 good ideas.

#3 The current Council as a whole does not use restraint when "Fluff" projects are on deck. They bleed cash to any whim of the administration, and then complain that the Mayor spends too much.

#4 The "availability" of a full half of Council is suspect. Most do not personally respond and few direct their staff to.

#5 Unprofessional behavior and lack of control over Council activity is fully responsible for the "State of Emergency" the Council functions in.

#6 Council has failed to make decisions that draw population and jobs to the area as needed.

#7 A Council of 8 members would cost us far less in payroll. Payroll and benefit packages are the single most expensive aspect to any Employer.

#8 A smaller Council will be more capable, accountable and Focused.

#9 Cities twice the size of Toledo have fewer than 6 Council members, yet are booming and productive by comparison.

#10 Changing the layout of Toledo into 5 districts, creating the Downtown area as a district of it's own, then dividing the city into equal square mile sections will even the field and allow for more compromise. With four, 11 sq mile districts, 1 Council person for each, 3 Council Members to handle the Downtown District and 1 President, the effective quality of Council will improve. The reason to have 3 Council for the DT area is simple..it's part Commercial/ business, part Residential. 1 for the Housing aspect, 1 for the Business/Commercial aspect and 1 to oversee infrastructure and break tie votes.

#11 Reducing the Council will free up payroll for the City to hire more employees for the departments that have long suffered from a lack of staffing.

#12 If we don't alter City Council, Toledo will continue to slip into the margins. We must streamline the Municipal Government to regain a competitive edge. Too many "cooks" have spoiled the brew....Toledo is getting bitter and without a radical change..we'll never get ahead.

Posted by Chad

No votes yet

Eliminate at-large members...

http://www.toledocobra.org/

From that site - the first initiative listed is this: "Provide better, more cost effective, direct representation of the citizens of Toledo through the reorganization of Toledo City Council."

If you're here to tell me it's my fault - you're right. I meant to do it. It was alot of fun. That's why I have this happy smile on my face.

I am a big fan of smaller government but is cutting our representatives really the way to go? Toledo has a long history of churning up the same names over and over again in leadership. Wouldn't cutting council make that problem worse? The more seats we have the more likely new blood can break the grip of the entrenched politicos. New ideas is what we need and less seats on council won't let that happen.

I say that individual neighborhoods should leave the city and form their own incorporated areas like Washinton Twp or Ottawa Hills. For instance, Point Place as it's own township or even the East Side. Representation would be much more direct and services could possibly be made more effective and cost efficient.

Matt Holdridge
The Toledo Tattler

The larger the group of people, the more lines of communication needed. Therefore, the number of people on a given project, board or committe should be as small as absolutely necessary.

The formula here is: n(n - 1) / 2

So, if we have 12 councilpersons, there are 12(12-1) / 2 lines of communication = 66 lines of communication.

If we cut it down to 8, that becomes 28 lines of communication.

In other words, we can reduce the size of council by 33% but get a 42% increase in communications efficiency. I think there's value there. But I also think the effects on representation should be considered. It WOULD reduce the representation of our residents.

I realize this is probably not going to be a popular suggestion, but it's how I feel. Anyone who actually sees how much work is involved when you have a good City Councilperson is aware this is not a part time job. It should be considered a full time job and they should be paid more to ensure it is their only full time employment. Quite a few of our council members put in well over 20 hours a week, some over 40 at what is considered a "part time job". It also limits our choices since many people don't have employers who are willing to be as flexible as needed to be a City Council person, so making it full time and increasing the salary would open up the ability for others to be able to run.

I'm not suggesting mayoral type salaries but when you consider some of the positions with in City Council for full time employment pay between $48,500 to $68,500, it doesn't make sense to pay City Council Members that much less continuing the pretense that it is a part time job.

We don't remember days only moments...

But I agree with you wholeheartedly. For the council members who are on the job full or more than full time. And there are a couple who have served well, in my opinion.

I also believe that teachers, public servants and elected officials should be well compensated when they perform well.

So - I guess I believe that we need to change what our expectations are and establish some performance benchmarks for public positions. And compensate on a review basis - pretty much like alot of our private industry works. If you come out of your review and your boss is patting you on the back, you should be able to get a raise.

But the way we currently do things we have little voice and our politicians have absolutely no accountability on an ongoing basis to report on their performance and yet we pay all the bills.

If you're here to tell me it's my fault - you're right. I meant to do it. It was alot of fun. That's why I have this happy smile on my face.

more pay for less Council positions has merit.

But, with full time pay for a full-time job comes the expectation of entitlement to a career, not just a term or two.

How many would be willing to abandon their career to run/serve?

I don't have the answer for this one, only the question...

Hooda Thunkit

Shane I agree with you on term limits, I don't think there should be any and Elections are the time to not only impose a term limits but to handle the merit based pay. If they haven't earned their pay or aren't doing their job right, then don't re-elect them!

As far as publicly funding elections; that's a horrible idea. The increase of money in politics has had the negative result of causing disillusionment in the election process, however contributions are a way for citizens to show their support or lack there of for a policy/candidate. The idea that the federal government would finance all elections from the local on up is ludicrous, unconstitutional and at the very least spits in the face of what this country was founded on. If you think it's hard to get into politics now, which it isn't, wait till politicians can control who receives or deserves election funding and who doesn't. It would open the door even wider to corruption and exclusion based on political beliefs/persons that those in power would find threatening.

Matt Holdridge
The Toledo Tattler

City Council is a full time job in my mind. I agree to making the positions full time. I agree that pay for that job should be in the 50-60k range. I agree with Lisa on merrit and annuall raises. In the private sector, it's called a cost of living increase for the year, and a merrit rais based on preformance. The terms limits are needed to cut down on special consideration of people and projects based on long term associations with spacific individuals/corperations. The lack of stringent term limits is evident by the "Old Boy's Club" that has and is running this city for the last 3 decades.

Many of the junior Members of Council are constantly shut down by this crowd of lifers and that's not a good place to be. I hate to break it to ya'll, but a Political life is not ment to be in one position forever. If you are successful as a politician you will advance up the ladder and not be stuck in Council or other municipal positions. If you are not able to grow, and move up..you are either a margin or a backslider.

For a healthy and growing city, we have to have a healthy change on a regular basis in leaders.

As for representation: Many cities have a set number of party seats. In our case, the set seating I mentioned is what I believe to be a fair and equitable distribution of power. The simple fact is we have a fractured and factioned system. It's not easy to re-organize a whole City's system, but in our time of need, I feel it's best to re-invent the wheel so to speak.

Toledo has long been entrenched in this mire of 1 party rule and no progress. How many decades have to go by before people stop being selfish and start looking out for the whole? To change the things that make us all crazy we have to start in the core..and that's the Municipal Government. The me, me me, days are over even if Toledoans are unwilling to admit it. We have to look out for everyone, not just a few with personal agendas.

We will never all agree on everything. We must build on what we do agree on and let time take care of the rest.

Having money taken from you in form of taxes by force and given to a candidate or cause that you do not support is not only against what the founders of this country believed but is truly immoral and disgusting.

The price of your so-called "clean publicly funded" elections is a loss of liberty and freedom for all citizens.

Your Rousseau-esque philosophy is not what this country was founded on!

Shane would you accept a complete loss of liberty or self-determination if it guaranteed you enough food not to starve, a roof over your head and some rudimentary healthcare?

Matt Holdridge
The Toledo Tattler

I like the idea of shorter term limits..and no re-elects. IE: A 4 year term with no possibility of re-election. Serve once and serve well. In this way, we ensure that no one party or person retains too much influence for too long. A smaller, less time burdened Councill will take effeciency to a new level. I also submit that Council, the School Board and other like positions be constricted to equall party influence. IE: 3 R's, 3 D's and 2 independents. This seems a fair and equitible distribution of influence.

City Council Members "Earn" $27,500.00 annually for a part time position. Aditionally, they recieve the same benifits that all City Employees do. One noteable difference is that Council pays a portion of the health care and the union employees do not. We, as Citizens pay 362,000 dollars for payroll alone to City Council, add the bennies and the number skyrockets. We'd save $110,000.00 per year if we reduce to 8 members in payroll alone.

I believe the Citizens will be better served by a ballanced and more concentrated Council. The cash saved by this will be better utilized as payroll in city departments.

I support merit raises as a concept over a blanket raise with no performance measures. Most of the employers I worked at, back in the ancient days when I had employers, did a combination system where you would get a minimum of a certain amount per hour but had the potential based upon your job performance to get more than that.

We don't remember days only moments...

That could be a problem, you'd have to have some type of understanding that you could be rehired or know you'd be able to find a job at the end of your term. That would be the only way to avoid the career politician concern.

We don't remember days only moments...

I think if you look at countries and US States that already have publicly financed elections, you'll find that many of your concerns are unfounded.

In Maine, for example, the so-called "Clean Election" laws are very straight foreward and have been taken advantage of by nearly all members of the state legislature. In that state, IIRC, a candidate has to raise a threshold amount in small donations. Once reached, he qualifies for a state grant on the condition of his promise not to raise any more money.

It's no more unconstitutional than the spending cap put on federal candidates that take matching funds. The law doesn't prevent people from donating to politicians. It prevents politicians from accepting donations.

And how does this "spit in the face of what this country was founded on?" This country was founded on big money in politics? I don't follow.

Furthermore, you suggest that "it isn't" hard to get into politics. I suppose that depends, doesn't it? If you're suggesting that incumbency and the potential for quid pro quo that it creates isn't an unnecessary hurdle then I think you should look again at stats for elections with incumbents vs. open elections.

There is in my mind no way to justify a billion dollar prez election. Money has changed the constituency from The People to The Millionaires and The Businesses. When it's easier to get votes than it is to get dollars, there's just too much conflict of interest. And this is both sides of the aisle.

Every large problem in our country today can be tied directly or indirectly to the growing influence of money (and thusly Big Business and Economic Elites) in our politics.

1. How would you know "what this country was founded on?" People use the "founded on" argument to support ANYTHING THEY WANT TO SUPPORT. I can say this country wasn't founded on special interests controlling our government. I can say this country wasn't founded on dirty toilets and we must have clean toilets across the land! It's just FUD.

Thomas Jefferson felt we should have a constitutional convention every 19 years. That every generation should be as free as those previous, and that we shouldn't be held down by the tyranny of the status quo and decisions of our "founding fathers."

2. Are you aware of the way our public financing works currently for Prez elections? There's no reason to change that, just expand it.

3. You say "The price of your so-called "clean publicly funded" elections is a loss of liberty and freedom for all citizens." First of all, what's with the "so-called?" Are you trying to sound as pretentious as possible? Second, the price of MAINTAINING THE STATUS QUO is a loss of liberty and freedom for all citizens EXCEPT THE MOST WEALTHY.

4. You don't seem to really understand the way these public financing laws work in the states that have them (Maine, Connecticut, Arizona, N. Carolina etc). They don't violate Buckley v. Valeo.

5. It's a nice straw-man you setup in your last paragraph, but this is about making government work for the PEOPLE again, instead of whoring themselves for campaign contributions. The notion that any limitation of big money in politics is abridging free-speech and stealing away liberties is ludacris and is used by those interested in preserving the status quo. Such people are usually in the minority of us who actually feel that Gov't is working for them. Most of us aren't in that group.

$330,000.00, not $362,000.00.

I'm of the opinion that we already have term limits: They're called "Elections."

The notion that we can't elect a guy we want because he's already been doing a great job for the city for 2 (or whatever) terms is just silly.

yes, I agree incumbency has advantages that reduce the ability for 'fresh blood.' But the way to fix that is to level the playing field between incumbents and outsiders, not to prevent incumbents from running.

For my money the answer for that is publicly financing elections. Every election. Every dime. All publicly financed. I read a study (can't find the google link) that said this could be accomplished nationwide for $5bn a year on average. That's $16 per citizen per year to buy our democracy back.

Not a bad deal, IMO.

And I also agree with making council jobs full time with full time pay.

Big Labor, Big Teachers, Big Media, Big Governement (Big Spending), Big Healthcare, Big Environmental, and Big Boy (menu has not kept up with today's fast pace...shame on them).

...what 'FUD' stands for?

It's an IT term. It was coined to describe the tactics used by IBM sales reps in the days where "you never got fired for buying IBM" It stands for "Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt." In this particular case, his invocation of "our founding principles" is the FUD.

...much appreciated.

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