City Managers Lead To Tyranny?

Mitchell voters smacked down a proposal to add a city manager to the city staff Tuesday.

According to the Mitchell Daily Republic, the initiated measure was defeated 1,486 to 782, a 65.52 to 34.48 percent margin. Voter turnout was 23.4 percent.

Ouch.

In the lead up to the vote, the newspaper printed quite a few letters to the editor on the subject. Steve Sibson, in particular, made an impassioned plea to voters to defeat the measure.

Part of his argument was this: “Once you understand the real agenda, then voting “no” on the city manager is paramount — that is if you care about freedom, property rights and the representative form of government that protects us. Putting an unelected, appointed executive in charge only sets us up for tyranny and dictatorship.”

I guess I can see the philosophical point he is trying to make, but I think it’s severe overreach.

After all, Yankton has had a city manager form of government for decades, and I don’t think its citizens are any more susceptible to tyranny and dictatorship than Mitchell residents. Of the three city managers I’ve covered, I can say that they all have had different styles — and one was definitely very hands-on — but dictatorial and tyrannical are not adjectives I would attach to any of them.

I’ve included the aforementioned letter below for your evaluation:

LETTER: Manager does not lessen government

Proponents for a city manager say that will make city government more efficient. Don’t be misled — that does not mean a smaller government.

By: Steve Sibson, Mitchell, The Daily Republic

Proponents for a city manager say that will make city government more efficient. Don’t be misled — that does not mean a smaller government. Reality is that making government more efficient by removing checks and balances, that are foundational for a large representative government that prevents excess and corruption, will set the stage for what happened in Bell, Calif.

Bell is now facing serious budget problems after its $800,000-a-year city manager was not checked by the council. The city manager set up a city-funded pension plan for him and 40 city employees that is a part of their financial ills. Apparently, the state pension plan was not enough. It is projected that the former city manager will get as much as $1.5 million a year from that state-funded plan.

Too bad Bell’s City Council did not stay on top of their budget. Mitchell’s mayor said, “I don’t think they (the City Council) spend enough time on the budget to know what’s in it other than big equipment.” Adding a city manager to Mitchell’s government will be the same recipe used in Bell.

And how many of our allegedly financially illiterate council members believe we can afford a new events center?

I have done my research on this issue and am putting a small part of it on as many doors as I can before Tuesday. Once you understand the real agenda, then voting “no” on the city manager is paramount — that is if you care about freedom, property rights and the representative form of government that protects us. Putting an unelected, appointed executive in charge only sets us up for tyranny and dictatorship. That is why this old European idea of government was rejected by our founding fathers. The city of Madison also rejected it in 1961.

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