DeKalb Council Votes for Convenience over Public Safety


If we’re to change anything in DeKalb city government, we need city council members who understand their role as policymakers and as supervisors of the bureaucrats.

Have I ever passed this on to you? During a conversation last spring about the clerk issue, I was told that council members are fellow city employees.

Who told them that? How is it that there are council members who do not understand the difference between elected officers and staff?

It is very easy to see, though, that this public body does not understand its role, and one example is that they put up with the heavy use of waivers.

Waivers are used for convenience, and to get around the Municipal Code. Usually it’s the suggestion, placed right in the agenda, to waive second reading and pass a measure on the first go-round. Nearly as often, staff want council to override a bidding process.

This week, city staff asked the city council to waive the residency requirement for the IT director candidate that they like. It was presented as super-urgent, and council went along.

The problem with this (besides their ongoing preference for carpetbaggers, I mean) is that it goes against a policy set by council that identified the IT director as an emergency response position. That is, this person has been categorized by council as needing to be close to hand in case of emergency.

Council should have insisted that the policy be followed, at least until the matter could be revisited for deliberation at a public meeting. Instead, the city manager’s convenience was prioritized over a public safety consideration.