Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Mac is back

Mike McNamara is back from Iraq and tonight he sat in on his first city council meeting where he was able to be physically present and not just calling in from the desert.

I have the distinct feeling that NcNamara's presence on the council is going to encourage some heated (and probably lengthy) debates. Even tonight, there seemed to be a certain level of tension between McNamara and some of his new colleagues...especially Mayor Brown. Then again, they did buy McNamara that cake with the American flag on it...

What do I think of McNamara's presence on the council? I realize that this was only the first council meeting where he could be physically present, but if tonight is any indicator of what may be to come, I think McNamara could end up being the lone dissenting vote on plenty of council votes. He just seems to be setting himself up as an outsider...something that might sound good during the election, but means something different after the election.

McNamara's seemingly insatiable desire to cut city taxes (without giving much thought to the fact that further cuts may hurt valuable city services) is dangerous and short-sighted, in my opinion. Department heads work hard to trim their respective budgets as much as they feel they can and McNamara's criticism seems like micromanagement...something that I thought McNamara would be against. I also have the nagging feeling that this a drawn-out advertisement for "Mac Talk", but hopefully I'm being too cynical. I guess time will tell.

BTW, did anybody else notice that Mike's name placard on the desk is spelled wrong? It reads McNamera instead of McNamara. Funny.

Update - 9/7/2006 - 12:52 AM
Check out Tu-Uyen's opinions of Mac's presence on the council.

Update - 9/8/2006 - 12:27 AM
I forgot to post this earlier. Check out this audio interview with councilman McNamara from the Say Anything blog.

11 comments:

Good Ol' Boy said...

There's pros and cons to being a dissenting voice. Mac may marginalize himself, although I believe he's too smart to let that happen. The important thing is that someone says the things that need saying- and saying taxes are too high is one of them.

To me, saying the department heads are doing all they can to trim their budget, and leaving it at that is awfully close to letting the inmates run the asylum.

I think the main thing Mac wants to get to is accountability- something the Marines traffic in daily. And what's wrong with that?

Dave Miller said...

Accountability is the right word, not micromanagement. There's only one way to make widespread change, and that's to start out as a micromanager. Look at Ford Motor Company. You don't think the new CEO isn't going to get his paws into every nook and cranny in order to turn that company around? That's exactly what Alan Mulally did with Boeing.

And why is 'outsider' such a dirty word in Grand Forks politics? It seems like the problem to me in good ole GF is that there are too many sheep that sit on the council and therefore no true change can take place.

Rob said...

For anyone interested, we're going to have Mac on SAB'ers Talk Radio tonight at 8:00pm central. You can all call in with your questions or whatever. The phone number to call is at the link.

As for cutting taxes, let's remember tax cuts often result in higher tax revenue. Recently it was reported that city tax revenue was growing among ND's big four cities (Minot, Bismarck, Grand Forks and Fargo). What was interesting is that tax revenue grew the most in the cities with the lowest sales tax (Minot and Bismarck) and slowest in the cities with the highest sales taxes (Grand Forks and Fargo). Particularly Grand Forks since you guys have the highest sales tax in the state.

Now I'm not certain what taxes Mac wants to cut (property taxes, isn't it?), but regardless it's clear that Grand Forks' taxes are too high.

And even if cutting taxes don't result in increased revenues, I've never met a municipal government that couldn't afford to tighten the belt a bit.

Anonymous said...

The most visible "community leaders" in Grand Forks have set up a "game" in the last 10 years, or so. It's the old "kiss your face, and stab you in the back" dynamic. They think to survive in this small community, you must effectively play this game to maintain your "popularity". You comprimise your character when you disagree with popular opinion, rollover, remember the instance, lay in grass, and then "get" that person when you have a chance.

Hopefully Mac won't morph his character, as he gets more exposure, and play this game in the future.

ec99 said...

In recent years, "outsiders" have had woefully little luck on the council. They have either given up (Bjerke)or gotten the boot (Hoff). As it stands now, the prime prerequisite to even consider running is personal wealth (or at least being well off), time enough to do the job, and name recognition in the city. Doesn't seem like any of that will change soon.

GrandForksGuy said...

Bjerke and Hoff? Probably the two biggest goofballs to ever sit on the city council. I get sick just thinking of those two...

ec99 said...

That's not the point. They are the best examples of outsiders, people who did not march lockstep with the rest. Whether they were capable or not is not the question. They ended the long history of unanimous votes on everything. Which, in itself, was a plus.

pj said...

"You comprimise your character when you disagree with popular opinion, rollover, remember the instance, lay in grass, and then "get" that person when you have a chance."

It is a Hal of a problem with the majority of the current council and mayor. I don't believe Mac will ever turn into a Kruen or Brown. I don't even think he'll turn into a Christensen, Brooks, or Bakken. Maybe a Glassheim, but I hope not.

When/if the lone voice is the voice of reason, it's up to us to make sure the rest of em know who we agree with. If enough of us stand up and speak, none of us will have to worry about the retaliatory actions of the other politicos. This goes for the school board & county commission, as well as the city council. Dare to speak and bring your friends, or you deserve whatever you get.

Coffee Guy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Coffee Guy said...

Did the marine sink a knife into the American flag cake? Were there candles on it, melting and burning the Sugars of Freedom?

GrandForksGuy said...

LOL, Coffee Guy! A marine eating the flag after it has been burned and cut up...yikes!