Tuesday, May 06, 2008

What good is council if they can't do their job?

Among the myriad of agenda items for tonight's Toledo City Council meeting is consideration of a purchase agreement between the City and Tetra Tech, a local company who wants to develop the Swan Creek Area.

It really isn't a purchase agreement, but a 'hold in place' contract whereby the City will agree to hold on to various properties in the area - for $5,000 - for up to 18 months while Tetra Tech does their due diligence on the idea.

This is a terrific agreement for Tetra Tech and I certainly do not fault them one bit for working out a contract that is all to their benefit.

Toledo City Council rightly has questions on the contract and the potential financial obligations. So one council member, Joe McNamara, has suggested that council hire an outside attorney to review the contract on behalf of the council members.

First of all, that's what a city law department is for - but making this suggestions will fit nicely with the perspective some on council are trying to promote that the law department is working for the 'mayor' and not the 'city as a whole,' including 'council.'

Aside from the political strategy, Joe McNamara is an attorney, so I fail to see why he feels it necessary to have someone with legal expertise examine the contract. Can't he do that himself???

And other council members seem to be warming to the idea.

If our council members are so lacking in ability to read, examine and evaluate an agreement as so simple as this particular contract, it scares me to death to think they also vote on bond issues, budgets, grants, etc.

I read the proposed contract and saw several things which weren't spelled out. One example is the environmental issue. The actual purchase is dependent upon several items as part of a feasibility analysis. One of those is the stipulation that the properties have no environmental issues - or the issues are addressed. This particular clause does NOT say WHO is responsible for addressing the issues - the buyer or the seller. Even though the city's attorney assured council during their agenda meeting last week that it was the buyer, I would have asked that such clarification be incorporated into the language of the agreement. And, if it's already understood that the buyer is responsible, including such written documentation of that understanding shouldn't be a problem.

See how easy such things are? And I'm not even an attorney. So why would members of council not be capable of reading the document, asking such questions and then informing the law department what additions/subtractions they'd like included in the contract? Granted, the law department will have to take the recommendations back to Tetra Tech, but I'm sure Tetra Tech is expecting such actions.

What bothers me most is the implication that members of council are not qualified to read, evaluate and then make recommendations on such a simple, straightforward contract. If they can't do that, what else are they incapable of doing - and why are they still in office if they can't perform such basic functions?

4 comments:

Tami N. said...

Excuse me if this has already been answered, but I was out of the country last week and didn't get to follow up on this...Isn't the market out of funds as of 4/30/08? I thought that City Council had approved to support them only through that date. From what I heard on the news today it sounds like they are still operational.

Maggie Thurber said...

Tami - you are correct - technically. :)

I'm sure that if council votes today to close down the operations, they'll have to fund the month of May...

And if they decide to leave it open and fund it for any other amount of time, they'll just pass an ordinance for funding retroactively...that's what they did earlier in the year.

There's always a way for government to spend money.

Tim Higgins said...

Maggie,

Can you really wonder why anyone is reticent to touch this monster? Can you not see the shades of yellow in council chambers?

If this project is successful, there will be plenty of credit to go around, but I don't believe that the confidence level is very high in city council. Even taking on this contract for review places a council memeber's name in the same sentence as the contract, and that appears to be a bad place to be.

Right now, this is Carty's monster, and he is already "in for a dime, in for a dollar" where the ESM is concerned. I believe that the reason that no one wants to take on this beast is not qualification, but cowardice.

Hooda Thunkit said...

"what else are they incapable of doing - and why are they still in office if they can't perform such basic functions?"

They are "in power" precisely because they are inept; seems that our standards need to be reevaluated...

After all, it's we the sheeple who put them in office, so maybe we're the problem...

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