Interestingly, the structure advisory committee never interviewed the commissioners even though the source of all county dysfunction can probably be traced directly to their lack of management and inexperience in public administration. Instead of making recommendations to the commissioners such as entrusting their department heads to manage their own budgets, (regular BOC meeting attendees already knew about the micromanagement), or on how to better facilitate communication between the departments, the committee would rather just bypass process and toss the entire “unmanageable” administrative workload of three commissioners onto to one unelected manager. One of the advantages to this system, according to the committee, appears to be that a manager can make decisions and poll the commissioners outside of public view without violating Oregon’s public meetings law. Presently, the commissioners may not discuss county matters between themselves unless the public is first informed and allowed to be present for the deliberations.
192.620 Policy. The Oregon form of government requires an informed public aware of the deliberations and decisions of governing bodies and the information upon which such decisions were made. It is the intent of ORS 192.610 to 192.690 that decisions of governing bodies be arrived at openly. [1973 c.172 §1]
The corporate mindset that dominates the committee is unable to make the distinction between making quick decisions that effect a quarterly return for a handful of shareholders vs the management of public treasure that belongs to future generations. In their minds, public process is too unwieldy to involve the electorate and so the establishment of a czar, the same failed management system we have at the Port of Coos Bay is the obvious answer to securing ORC mineral leases and Wagon Road agreements, etc…
One of the structure committee members, Al Pettit, is confident that consolidating different departments would more than make up for the cost of hiring this new czar but shared no budgetary analysis in his power point that supports his supposition. Additionally, there has been no risk assessment to weigh the potential for success or possible consequences and in truth, the concept success was not clearly defined. How will hiring a czar solve upcoming revenue shortfalls or save the county from insolvency?
From a political science perspective this has been a fascinating process to watch. Commissioner Main has clearly lost control of the very board he handpicked and the committee has now taken an adversarial position to Main and found support from the local paper. What this indicates to me is that someone with chamber “cred” will soon file to oppose Main in the next election. The paper will continue to pound away on Main, although not for the things he deserves a pounding, and will ignore candidate Randy Sanne’s obvious leadership skills and unimpeachable understanding of the budgets and ultimately support someone with little or no public administration experience just like the two appointed commissioners we have now.
Committee co-chairs Pettit and Jon Barton acknowledged their anti-government bias when admitting surprise that the county is not “bloated like all other government” and that the staff actually “work hard”. It appears from watching them they make many other ill advised assumptions, one being that if someone isn’t a chamber member they must have no prior corporate experience. This is obvious in Pettit’s presentation when he talks about things like the “silo management” style as if it is an accurate description of what happens at the county, (debatable) and further as if silos inevitably lead to failure, (not true).* Barton and Pettit should be wary that there are many local, active and retired corporate executives with extensive management experience who read and see what they promote and recognize the shallowness of their analysis. They are wrong to underestimate the knowledge and breadth of experience of their audience simply because some haven’t joined the local club.
*A silo is an organizational unit that has established itself in a high-influence core position within the value network of a specific business model, by reliably and efficiently adding clearly-defined and measurable value to any appropriate embedding business process, and offers essential services that satisfy demand from more than one mission critical process.