Still NOPE on this one.
It’s like buying a new car because the ashtrays are full (remember?). Or the tires are worn out. Or it needs an oil change. Choose your metaphor, but then stick with it, please. Change for the sake of change isn’t useful.
The newly reported move to amend Lakeland’s city charter to allow for a strong-mayor form of government is just busy work, distracting everyone from the task at hand, which is to find ways to improve the city’s operation for the benefit of its citizens.
The strong-mayor system confers power, not leadership. If Doug Thomas were such a mayor, his detractors would simply be campaigning to defeat him in the next election. Which might make matters worse if the “wrong” mayor wins. Then they would have to wait four years to fix that “mistake”. The only leverage would be re-election, but most incumbents win anyway, so what’s the worry?
The current form of city government in Lakeland gives the commission the power to hire, and fire, the city manager and the city attorney. This day-to-day accounting provides for regular feedback and oversight. It’s a primary responsibility. Now, the commissioners don’t actually manage the city manager on a day-to-day basis. It’s more like month-to-month, but that’s a lot more frequent than election-to-election.
The strong-mayor system vests its power in one person who answers only to the voters, only once every four years. The council form divides it among seven, requiring at least four to take action or make policy. And since every issue is likely to attract a different subset of the council it’s harder for other powerful forces to hold sway.
We, my fellow citizens, can deliver all the change we need. Bring your talent, passion, interest, and ideas to the table. Attend commission meetings, buttonhole the commissioners and city employees you know. Get to know more of them and get to know more about the city.
Climb aboard the citizen-ship and make your voice heard. That would be a nice change. For the record, this “charter change” notion gets a “NOPE“.