Last night during citizens’ comments I addressed the perception of city mismanagement (though admittedly not well). I think Council members are trained by administrators to believe community ire is the norm. It’s not. The reason the locals are in an uproar several times a year is because of administrators’ poor judgment and ample evidence that they hide things whenever and however they can. It does not have to be this way, but the pattern will continue until somebody on the dais challenges it; and in pretending that it is OK for an alderman to get under-the-radar city work, they are throwing away a superb opportunity to start imposing a more stringent standard of conduct. Just think how it might have changed the tone of the discussion if one of the council members had said something like, “This so offends my personal code of ethics that I will find it difficult in future to work with the people involved.”
See how that works? Without drama, disapproval is expressed, a boundary indicated, a consequence imposed. Think about how one might impact the culture over time by asserting himself regularly in that manner.
I’d hoped my own alderman, the 4th Ward’s Brendon Gallagher, would have been that person last night. Gallagher said he’s registered with the SEC and this tells me, because I do occasional work for an investment firm myself, that he abides by a very strict code of professional conduct. In fact, if he worked for my firm he’d have to choose between his day job and his position as alderman! I haven’t asked, but it is not difficult to imagine that on some level he must be deeply offended by the machinations of the ethically-challenged people at city hall. I hope at some point he realizes it would not only be OK but highly respected if he were to begin publicly and consistently asserting, where appropriate, that the means are at least as important as the ends when it comes to conducting city business.
That would be a path a statesman would take, and we really could use one on our Council.