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McKelvey statement on administrator and county governance

McKelvey statement on administrator and county governance

A County Administrator and the BOC
By Mark McKelvey

As the discussions taking place in the Governance Committee grind along, I have serious concerns about their direction. I see two issues at stake: the hiring a county administrator and the composition of the Board of Commissioners (BOC). The Governance Committee conflates the two which I think puts Coos County at risk.

My stance on hiring a county administrator is to avoid a “Fire! Ready. Aim.” approach. I do think there are efficiencies an administrator could bring to Coos County which will help the County function better and provide greater services for less money. However, like most things the devil is in the details. Before hiring one, we need to determine exactly what an administrator would do.
Of the nineteen General Law Counties in Oregon, twelve of them have administrators. It is not outrageous to see how Coos County could benefit by joining their ranks. However, caution should be our guide. In none of those twelve counties do the administrators perform the same functions. Each one has a unique job description. Some focus entirely on the budget; others oversee a silo of public works departments; a few act as an intermediary between department heads and the BOC. Before we even think about hiring an administrator, we need to determine exactly what that person will do according to a detailed job description. One size does not fit all.

Going forward I recommend we do two things. First, we need to hold meetings with all the department heads at the same table to talk about the possible benefits and potential drawbacks of adding an administrator. Next, we need to visit those other twelve counties and find out firsthand how the administrator has worked out for them. After that we will be educated enough to know whether adding an administrator will benefit Coos County, and we should have a clear idea about how it should be done. It may be the case that the County’s structural problems can best be addressed internally. Nevertheless, mismanagement is not the County’s key problem. Falling revenues from timber receipts is.
While adding an administrator could become problematic, I don’t think it puts the County at risk. However, changing the composition of the BOC does. Of those nineteen General Law counties like ours, all but one have three member BOCs. Sixteen of them employ full time commissioners. The model of three full time commissioners works very well all across the state and it has for some time.
The proposed changes to the composition of the BOC will surely weaken its authority and consequently diminish the influence of the people in county government. Adding two commissioners does not make the BOC more nimble in the face of open meeting law. Lane County’s legal trouble is testimony to that.
Reducing commissioners to part time status invites disaster. Commissioners need to be dedicated to running the County 24/7; it must be their predominant, primary concern, not a part time interest. According to Bill Penhollow of the Association of Oregon Counties, part time commissioners have a documented track record of decreased accountability and dedication.
Furthermore, I believe the position merits full time pay in order to attract the best candidates. Only one county in all of Oregon has volunteer commissioners. Very few folks in Coos County enjoy the luxury of working for free.
Additionally, carving the County into wards or districts is a divisive proposal which would inevitably pit one part of the County against another. We need to be building County unity, not sub-dividing it.
If it is determined that adding a county administrator will make Coos County more efficient and productive, then by all means we should do it. But we shouldn’t have to “pay” for it by neutering our BOC. There are twelve other Oregon counties with both a full time, three member BOC and a county administrator. That model works for them. It certainly can work for us too.

The views expressed do not necessarily reflect the opinions of MGx.

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7 Responses to "McKelvey statement on administrator and county governance"

  1. Profile wp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-50 alignnone photo of magix
    magix  April 26, 2012 at 6:46 AM

    So far I haven’t spoken much with Mary, especially about LNG so there is no way of empirical economic data taken from other LNG ports like Sabine Pass will convince her LNG does not bring wealth to the region, one can hope. However, she did return $250 sent to her by the Alliance which speaks well of her ethics.

    Don Gurney recognizes that LNG will probably mean a net job loss because of all the timber cleared along the pipeline route.

  2. RUGullible  April 26, 2012 at 6:39 AM

    Re comment from Reminder, the peoples pal Al speaks loud but donates softly. His $500, perhaps from the thousands that the Coos Bay taxpayers gave him for new windows, compares to the $5,000 donated by ORC who needed tax relief to come here and get rich. Why not send the $5,000 and more back to the county treasurer, not to Jon Barton and Al Pettit? Most people donating to the PAC have a self interest in electing the right persons. There is a story going around about cheap Al making big noise in a charitable auction going all the way to $300 – with Bob Main out bidding him. Who are H&R Builders and what reason might they have for donating?

  3. The Reminder  April 26, 2012 at 12:12 AM

    I see that Mary Loiselle has bought-in to the idea, that LNG should be developed on the north spit. These guys and gals all seem to have the backs of the Messerle’s and the Bartons. She is another Shill for the same old tired platforms being put forth by SCDC. Maybe we need write-ins for both seats 2 and 3. They all represent the same interests, thereby giving us no real difference in what and “who” these candidates represent.

  4. The Reminder  April 25, 2012 at 11:44 PM

    There has been mentioned the possibility of having a write-in candidate for lack of a quality representative. Well this should be the seat that’s considered for such a move. If Jody McCaffree where willing, this would be the seat to go after.
    Mark believes the port is pursuing the right course with LNG and coal exports.That shows he has swallowed the bait and the sinker, that Barton and gang espouse.
    He believes an LNG terminal is not any more dangerous than your corner gas station. He has dollars signs clouding his judgement. This community will suffer more of the same failed policy’s put forth by the port, SCDC, and Jon Barton if Mark is elected.

  5. themguys  April 25, 2012 at 7:03 PM

    Interesting, Barton and Pettit had the same instant response on Bice’s show, they do NOT want a vote on any of this. Why would they? With Fred and the rest of The Chosen Ones to do their dirty work? Jon Barton is doubling down on this. Running a pac from his bedroom? I hope they blow through a bunch of Jon’s money, and Al’s, speaking of Al, he donated cash to the pac, one must assume that money might be our tax dollars which he deemed himself deserving for his private business profit, all the while screaming like the piglet he is about how this county is going broke??? No shame? No embarrassment? No moral outrage whatsoever. I guess he showed us how precious he is in taking tax dollars, he IS the “let’s drown government ” guy. But only when his hand is not out for Other People’s Money. I can’t decide if it’s ignorance or arrogance and so sure they will once again have their way with Coos County?

  6. RUGullible  April 25, 2012 at 6:42 PM

    Den, on the Jim Bice program Monday, Mr. McKelvey stated that the matter should not be put to a vote of the public. The podcast is available at the site. I enjoyed what he had said for almost two hours until that point when he joined Messerle, Sweet, Cribbins, Bishop, and maybe others who certainly implied – some stated directly – that we sitizuns is uneducated and too dumm to vote on the matter.

  7. den  April 25, 2012 at 6:05 PM

    The part that is missing in this analyze is the who will make the decision to move forward with an administrator, or restructuring the duties of the commissioners. Not much about The Citizens of Coos County being part of the process, let alone the final process, their choice through a vote, not a choice of he persons on the committees, as it seems to be now.


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