Commissioner At Staff Meetings A Flawed Idea
Hernando TodayOUR OPINION
Published: February 8, 2009
Published: February 8, 2009
While we're confident Hernando County Commissioner Rose Rocco has the best of intentions in wanting to attend high-level staff meetings of the county leadership team, it's simply a bad idea.
Make that a horrible idea.
Not only does it place into question Rocco's support for County Administrator David Hamilton, it also would serve to disrupt the free-flow of brainstorming by staff members in their efforts to streamline county government - something long overdue and critical if county government is going to operate efficiently in this troubled economy.
In a phrase, Rocco's attendance at the high-level staff meetings would throw a wrench into Hamilton's streamlining plans - plans we have championed since even before he took on the job as the county's top administrator.
After all, who's the boss?
If Rocco - Hamilton's boss - attends her subordinate's meetings, then won't it seem to Hamilton's subordinates that Rocco is really the one in charge and not Hamilton?
This scenario is reminiscent of the "too many cooks in the kitchen" analogy of how things can go wrong when elected officials become mired in the micromanagement of the day-to-day operations of county government. It breeds conspiracy and undermines the administrative form of government, not to mention the massive changes Hamilton is trying to accomplish with a government that's far outgrown the tax dollars available to support it and the patience of taxpayers to put up with such largesse.
This is the very reason why our county government is set up the way it is - to bring about professional administration and oversight as well as to prevent the kinds of political cronyism that comes about when elected officials start sticking their fingers into the frosting of the day-to-day operation of county government.
Hamilton was hired to administer the day-to-day operation of county government. He was also hired to fixed the many myriad problems that crept into county government when the housing boom rained cash on county government like a federal government stimulus bailout - an oxymoron at best.
No, if Hamilton is not living up to the expectations of Rocco and her colleagues on the county commission, it is their right to replace him. The county administrator is the only employee they have direct control over. They can hire and fire the county administrator and no one else.
Hamilton has done a terrific job in taking over the reins of county government - a government that had seen seven administrators of varying capacity come and go during the past 10 years. In a word, the administration of county government was a mess. There was no captain, no rudder to guide the ship. Hamilton has righted the ship and sailed in on a course that is a benefit to all taxpayers and constituents, especially in this tough economy. Commissioners approved his reorganization plan and his leadership team concept. They need to stick with it instead of sticking their noses in it.
Rocco's insistence in attending high-level staff meetings would serve to undermine the tricky job Hamilton has tackled since taking on the challenges of a county government that had become ripe with overspending and run by department heads who became more the privileged leaders of political fiefdoms than government service.
No, Rocco needs to keep her nose out of the day-to-day operations of county government and let the professional - Hamilton - continue to make headway on his efforts to streamline county government.
To their credit, both Chairman David Russell and Commissioner John Druzbick tried to convince Rocco that good business management practice should be followed and let the administrator and his staff meet as he requested. The presence of a commissioner at these meetings would have a negative effect on the ability of the administrator and staff to have frank and open discussion.
If Rocco doesn't like the plan that Hamilton and his staff comes up with, she can always do what her Hernando County constituents elected her to do and vote against it. However, she may find herself on the losing end of a 4-1 vote in this instance.
That's the type of government Hernando Countians demand.
To her credit, Rocco has softened her position and should realize that elected officials, as policymakers, have a duty to see that the government functions efficiently for the people they are responsible to - the public.
The intimation that she might not be getting all the information implies a lack of trust in Hamilton, and he has given no indication he would operate in that fashion. He has five bosses and must, out of necessity, treat them equally and share information with them in a like manner.
We think Rocco has been a conscientious public servant. It would serve her well if she places her confidence in the county administrator until he proves unworthy of that trust.