Does city management inspire trust?
Date: Saturday, May 24, 2008 @ 19:24:34 EST
Topic: Editorials

Does city management inspire trust?

Editorial by William Coakley

Is he telling the truth? "Nothing's been withheld ...we gave you everything WE KNEW..." city manager Robert Baldwin




Earlier this year, city manager Robert Baldwin finally admitted that he regretted having recommended the FMPA generation deal to the city. But over the months that followed, he became much better prepared to railroad through a 20 million dollar, 40 year water deal that was every bit as damaging to the well being of Lake Worth as the FMPA contract would have been.

TRUST & city managers

There is certainly no reluctance on anyone’s part to want to trust any city official. Trusting is so much easier. It means we can relax and enjoy our city and go about doing our work and enjoying our lives… and that’s what we all want; but after this week’s report by commissioner Golden on the city’s decision making process; it quickly became apparent that the city is in serious trouble... again.

When commissioner Golden pointed out the commission had a zero cost option confirmed by a city memo; its understandable she got screamed at by the commissioners who voted FOR the 40 year, 20 million dollar water deal. How embarrassing. But instead of being interested in saving taxpayers money, the three commissioners focused only on criticizing Golden for presenting the information in a public meeting. Without a single word about saving taxpayers money, they subsequently refused to review their decision probably hoping that by doing so, the embarrassment would go away. But that is unlikely since in a few months candidates will be asked whether or not they care about saving taxpayers money.

In her report, Golden reduced the facts and figures to a single meaningful explanation of how the commission was misled into the most expensive and longest term water deal of all the options available to the city: “The manipulation and control of information to elicit a specific outcome.” This presents a very serious problem for Mr Baldwin’s credibility and integrity.

As LWM reported previously, the city manager’s suppression of information even extended to a gag order on all employees, forbidding them to attend city meetings where they could speak. It seems these people are clearly afraid of information they can't control.  As the report continued, it became clear how Mr Baldwin and Mr Bates had cleverly steered the commission with the help of Mock Roos engineering who stood to benefit from either of the most costly options but wouldn’t make a penny on the zero cost option.

So it’s no surprise Mr Baldwin used a very juvenile argument to defend his inactions saying: “nothing’s been withheld, we gave you all the information WE KNEW…” So, in his mind, if you refuse to get the information, you didn’t do anything wrong. But Mr Baldwin is under the obligation of due diligence and refusing to include a zero cost option when asked… is not compatible with the obligation of his office.

After the report, of course there were the expected politically charged critics, including our local reporter with his own agenda, who criticized Golden for the way in which she went about getting the information out to the public. Of course, they had no suggestions of how else she could have proceeded. But most importantly, the critics all lacked any credible objection since they failed to provide a single fact, figure or anything from the record to refute the validity of the 20 minutes worth of content from the commissioner’s presentation… which is a first for Lake Worth where most controversial statements are ripped apart before the lips that uttered them have even closed.

More to come

This article comes from Lake Worth Media

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