The Silver Lining Playbook: Under New Management, Part II
Savannah's City Manager is the single most powerful position in municipal government. The City Manager supervises and controls all city employees (presently numbering more than 2,500) and appoints the directors of all eight bureaus and departments. The City Manager also carries out the policies and programs as established by council and is responsible for delivering an annual budget and work programs. We have in Savannah what is referred to as a "strong manager/weak mayor" form of government. But the City Manager is appointed by council and serves at their pleasure.
Our present City Manager was gifted the job when her predecessor was forced out for a long litany of complaints. At the time of her appointment, Stephanie Cutter openly admitted that she did not want the job, had not trained for the job, and intended to keep it for as long as it took council to conduct a search for Rochelle Small-Toney's replacement. Small-Toney had previously won the position when the process was rigged in her favor by a mayor intent on finding someone that "looks like me" (read: African-American) as the highest criteria for assuming the position. "Its our time," said Mayor Otis Johnson, meaning that it was time for African-Americans to step up and take their rightful place at the table of authority. In time-- in a short amount of time-- the errors made in this selection process surfaced, culminating in Small-Toney's dismissal. Therefore, Savannah was disappointed-- but not suprised-- that Stephanie Cutter came by her job in a similar manner.
A review of Cutter's job performance speaks for itself and the reader not rely on my reportage or interpretation of the facts. But the facts remain that at the bottom of just about every problem that currently plagues this city, the ineptitude of the City Manager and staff is a key contributing factor. We can either continue to slog through this agenda riddled with defect and send police chiefs to prison and fire department heads and watch hundreds of cops walk off the job and see hundreds of millions of dollars drained from the coffers-- or we can stop the pain and begin the mend simply by finding the best talent possible to manage the city.
As Mayor of Savannah, you have my solemn promise that we will launch the first open, honest nationwide search for the best person to manage this city. I honestly do not care if the candidate is man or woman, gay or straight, white, black, brown or purple, Jew or gentile, rich or poor. I'm looking for honesty, integrity, experience and education. I'm looking for a person who knows something about balance sheets and the bottom line and the beauty of a Ten-Year Plan. I'm looking for a visionary.
To paraphrase Dr. Johnson, I'm looking for somebody who thinks like me, not somebody who merely looks like me.