Last week in this corner, we bemoaned the fact Mayor Cliff Barwick’s address to council at this time last year was as dreary as the weather.
Well, he certainly livened up matters this time around by stepping front and centre to seek support for another four years as sole captain at the helm.
In a follow-up interview with T-J reporter Kyle Rea, Barwick indicated the economy and bringing jobs back to St. Thomas will be a key issue in his bid for re-election to the mayor’s chair.
That’s in stark contrast to his opening remarks Monday when the mayor noted, “A small city can only do so much,” when it comes to dealing with “the pressures and the ensuing hardships many of us are encountering.”
Barwick continued, “In Ontario a municipality cannot offer bonuses such as tax cuts, cheaper hydro, special water rates, etc., to entice prospective industrial investment.”
If that’s the reality we’re dealing with, having the economy as the key plank in your election platform seems more like posturing than something voters can get their teeth into.
WHAT’S A CITY MANAGER?
In Barwick’s annual address, he casually introduced the concept of appointing a city clerk-manager but did not elaborate on the specifics of such a position.
Obviously it is a compromise to appease the growing swell of support to re-introduce a chief administrative officer to city hall.
And in doing so, the mayor may be treading on very thin ice as research indicates a city manager may in fact have more influence than a CAO.
According to a reference paper on the web site of the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), the term “city manager, as opposed to CAO, implies more discretion and independent authority.”
This person’s responsibilities typically include most, if not all, of the day-to-day administrative operations of the municipality, according to the ICMA.
That would entail supervision of day-to-day operations of all city departments and staff, directly and through department heads; oversight of all hiring, firing, disciplining and suspensions; preparation, monitoring, and execution of the city budget, which includes submitting each year to the council a proposed budget package with options and recommendations for its consideration and possible approval.
A rather bold step forward for Barwick, if indeed he follows the accepted city manager model and is simply not just bestowing a title on the chosen individual.
Have these responsibilities been discussed with city managers, including the treasurer?
BETWEEN THE LINES
A faithful reader passes along an observation regarding Rev. Ian Johnston’s charge to council on Monday in which he alluded to seasoned leaders who perhaps remain in office beyond their useful term of contribution.
Rev. Johnston suggested as leaders become older they can become arrogant, have trouble passing the baton and shut down new ideas from others. They run the risk of losing sight of relevance and perhaps acquaint tenure with influence.
Was this directed at anyone in particular?
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“As I approach the zenith of my political career, I earnestly believe my civic duty will be fulfilled and personally complete, to serve just one more term as Head of Council.”
Mayor Cliff Barwick wraps up his New Year’s address to council seeking a vote of confidence from St. Thomas voters.
City Scope appears every Saturday in the Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be e-mailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org.