Reader Mail: Mind the store!!
Outspoken Hoboken citizen and regular council meeting attendee Helen Hirsch sent this email to Hoboken411 for all of you to read:
Hoboken should be run like a business
Hoboken and the people who have relied on it for home and livelihood are feeling betrayed and confused. Those who ask questions get a variety of answers, if they get answers at all, depending upon the orientation of the responder.
The undeniable reality is that Hoboken is as deeply in debt, size for size, as General Motors and for pretty much the same reasons: it did not plan ahead and it spent more than it took in. Everyone loved GM – and Hoboken – and nobody minded the store. Even now, the parallel continues. For years those who tried to draw attention to the problems were vilified or ignored.
It has been my feeling that since Hoboken is a business, it should be run as such. Who runs the City should be a full-time, trained professional, not the nice guy with whom to sit down and have a couple of beers. The form of government under which Hoboken currently operates is the Mayor-Council form, under which, by statute, the mayor is king. Members of the council may ask questions, but the mayor is not obliged to answer them. Essentially the council members have extremely limited power; when they are elected under the mayor’s flag — and funding — they become the mayor’s toadies.
The present condition of Hoboken led me to propose that the nine council members, who have sworn to represent the people of Hoboken and who do have the power to change the way things are done here, consider asking the voters of the City whether they would like to turn things around.
What to do?
There are two ways to accomplish this: the Council can put on the ballot at the next election, a referendum question requesting such a change or we, the people, can sign petitions requesting that referendum.
To clarify what I have been talking about I will quote an introductory statement of the Faulkner Act’s discussion of the Council-Manager form of government:
“The Council-Manager Form of Government is the most widely used form of government in the United States, despite limited use in New Jersey. The National Municipal League endorsed the Council-Manager form of government as the most desirable form of local government in the United States; the Council-Manager form has brought professional management that would have been unavailable under any other known governmental system.
The Council-Manager Form of government was first adopted in Sumter, South Carolina in 1912, at the height of the Progressive reform era in this country. It was based on a few simple but powerful ideas. The most important one was that politics and government could be separated. The Council-Manager form attempted to extract ward-based partisanship from municipal government and create professional management with non-partisan, at-large elections, eliminating elected administrative positions anc concentrating executive powers in a professional manager.
The Council-Manager form separated the legislative functions (council) from the execution of policy (manager).”
The council members hire the manager, based on resume and renew contracts based on performance. They would continue to serve residents of their respective wards while determining policy for the City as a whole. The manager would manage the money and oversee the fulfillment of the City’s operation — MIND THE STORE!!