To the editor:
Three proposed amendments to Cape Coral's city charter will be on the ballot for the election on Nov. 8. If approved, the first two would be harmful and would weaken the charter, they would do this by blurring the established and essential boundary between the powers and duties of the legislative (City Council) and executive (City Management) branches of government. The third deals with a minor administrative procedure and is slightly beneficial so it should be approved.
The following actions are strongly recommended.
1. Vote "No" on question No. 1 (Ordinance 33.11). The city council can unilaterally establish personnel standards for the city's auditing staff because that staff reports directly to the city council. However, the city council cannot be allowed to bypass the city manager and unilaterally establish personnel standards for employees in the executive branch, all of whom report to the city manager. The city manager is responsible now for establishing personnel standards for those employees and for recommending the standards to the city council for approval. This existing procedure in the charter is correct and has stood the test of time. The city manager's participation in this important activity is essential. We can't allow council members to start establishing personnel standards unilaterally for employees reporting to the city manager and then foisting those standards off on the city manager. Council members are elected policy makers, not personnel managers, but some are easily confused about their duties and like to mess around where they shouldn't. In other words, it ain't broke now so don't fix it.
2. Vote "No:" on Question No 2 (Ordinance 14-11). To manage the large executive branch effectively, the city manager must have complete control of it and always be the primary point of contact with council members. We can't allow council members to violate good management practices and make end runs around the city manager by dealing directly with, and probably micromanaging, department heads or lower-level employees when transacting city business. This is another example of council members messing around where they shouldn't. The present arrangement in the charter is correct and has stood the test of time. Again, it ain't broke now so don't fix it.
3. Vote "Yes: on Question No, 3 (Ordinance 36-11). This question requests a small procedural change in calculating final compensation for departing city officials and is a small improvement. It is a example of the kind of minor procedural minutiae that should never be included in a major policy document like the charter
Summarizing. if you vote "No - No - Yes" on the three referendum questions, you can't go wrong.
James L. Lane