February 6, 2014 | Volume 44, Number 5

Ordinance essential for good government

The previous edition contained a statement that the committee appointment ordinance should be implemented as policy instead of code. The advocate argues, “Every time we turn around, we are fighting against the code for one reason or another.” I argue that this is exactly what code is for, and for good reason.

Local government was established through authority granted by the people. This authority granted government certain powers. These powers are designed to preserve the liberty and property of citizens. However, government power must have limits. Therefore, checks and balances were designed into charter and code. They function as obstacles to government expansion of power beyond authority. They are also designed to bind representatives to the will of the people.

Committees are essential public institutions through which the will of the people is revealed. As such, the public maintains a vested interest into the management of committee structures and processes. Herein lies the issue. The current appointment process of this public institution is flawed. It does not properly empower the public, nor adequately protect the applicants. Additionally, the Mayor lacks sufficient information to make appointments. Therefore, given these issues, a design was needed to reconcile this appointment power to the necessary limitations on that power.

  The public process provides this reconciliation. It contains the required checks and balances to adequately maintain the public’s vested interest. Only code can guarantee the public process. Policy offers no such guarantee. Thus, code offers the reconciliation of power to authority, which results in legitimacy.

Mike Denker