Wanted: a servant leader

Next city administrator should know who's boss -- the people

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“All government, of right, originates with the people, is founded upon their will only, and is instituted solely for the good of the whole. Public officers are the trustees and servants of the people and are at all times amenable to them.”

– Constitution of the State of Georgia, Article I, Section II, Part I

Augusta leaders appear to have a pool of three fine candidates from which to choose the next city administrator.

The primary focus in selecting Augusta’s top nonelected official in the coming days will be determining which candidate possesses the best mix of “hard skills,” such as experience and aptitude, and “soft skills,” such as personality and attitude.

If we were part of the selection process, one of the main – if not the main – attributes we would look for in a prospective city manager is the qualities of a servant leader.

That’s because the best candidate to oversee a consolidated city-county government operation with $950 million in assets and 2,700 employees is one who understands the public is the real boss.

We might even bluntly ask the question: Whom does the city administrator work for?

Any answer other than “the people of Augusta” would be a negative mark on our checklist.

To be clear, the 10 elected Augusta commissioners and mayor merely are the city administrator’s immediate supervisors. The only power those 11 people sitting on the raised dais at city hall possess are the ones we the people choose to grant them.

It’s worth reminding the citizenry, especially in this day and age, that those leaders all work for, and are accountable to, you the public.

The seats on which they sit belong to you. The computers they use at the municipal building belong to you. The documents those computers contain belong to you. The business they conduct is your business.

We hope the next administrator understands his or her job is only made easier when a spirit of openness is fostered with the public.

Running a government in a community as demographically diverse as Augusta is a challenge for any public administrator. Trying to run it under a veil of secrecy – the contents of the previous city administrator’s workplace hard drive went missing – only squanders resources and foments public distrust.

Open meetings and open records laws exist for a reason. As the Georgia Municipal Association says in the 10th edition of Government in the Sunshine, they are “a reminder that government is created by and for the people to promote the common good and that
public officials and employees are the servants, not the masters.

“These public servants are expected to execute their duties in an honest and trustworthy manner that can be reviewed, judged and critiqued by the people. The only way the people can regulate their government is if they know what it is doing. Thus, openness in government must be the rule and not the exception.”

That spirit of openness is reiterated in the very first sentence of the city’s own statement of beliefs, which reads, “We believe that open, honest communications with the public and among governing officials will assure the accomplishment of our community objectives.”

We certainly urge city leaders to have that in mind when they choose their candidate.

Comments (11) Add comment
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specsta
10929
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specsta 07/18/14 - 02:25 am
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Many Rulers, Few Servants

ACES wrote - "The seats on which they sit belong to you. The computers they use at the municipal building belong to you. The documents those computers contain belong to you. The business they conduct is your business."

It would be a wonderful world if all locally elected officials, from the Mayor to the Commission to the Sheriff and every other government employee fully realized that - and acted like they were servants of the people, not rulers of their own personal fiefdom.

geecheeriverman
43654
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geecheeriverman 07/18/14 - 05:27 am
3
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wanna bet

Wanna bet on who will get the job. I will reveal if I am right or wrong when the announcement is made.

hoptoad
102615
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hoptoad 07/18/14 - 07:12 am
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Great Editorial.

Great Editorial.

deestafford
75558
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deestafford 07/18/14 - 08:05 am
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As I was reading the editorial the old saying,....

As I was reading the editorial the old saying, "It's hard to drain the swamp when you are up to your 'butt' in alligators".

"We the People" may actually be the boss of the administrator but his butt in being bitten daily by the ten commissioners. It's like when you're outside to work in the yard and are being bitten by sketters...you've got to stop the pain of the bite.

The problem is we have a poorly structured government with a weak mayor and weak administrator. We need to have a strong mayor or a city manager type. What we have now is an ego-stoking form of government with the commissioners' ego being stroked.

AFjoe
28178
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AFjoe 07/18/14 - 08:06 am
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No doubt who will get the job

geecheeriverman-If you go back and read comments from this forum, everyone agrees it will be the same person. Hint...its not a guy.

just an opinion
4524
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just an opinion 07/18/14 - 08:21 am
3
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Why are the other two even interviewing?

Thanks for your time but you obviously don't know how things are done around here. We don't care care how great your education or experience is. That's not what is important.

WalterBradfordCannon
1536
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WalterBradfordCannon 07/18/14 - 09:19 am
3
1
A wise man was preparing for

A wise man was preparing for his lecture on servant leadership. He was taking a trip to the Middle East to visit religiously tourist sites. He ran into a shepherd. Always curious, he asked the shepherd. "When you move your sheep from one place to another, do you walk in front of them, or do you walk behind them?"

The shepherd answered "That depends. Sometimes I lead them someplace familiar to which they already know the way. Then I walk in front of them. Sometimes they need to go someplace new for reasons they don't understand. Then I walk behind them."

A leader who always walks in front of you and takes you to someplace familiar is only capable of taking you places you already know. Sometimes there are places that are better for you, that you do not already know, and the leader must walk behind you instead and show you the way. The wisdom comes in knowing which way is the best for you.

triscuit
4409
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triscuit 07/18/14 - 02:50 pm
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Of course the

Of course the "consultant/entrepreneur" black female is a shoo-in. Funny how that "title" was ridiculed recently when one black female who ran for Mayor used it. Her personal issues sank her, we all know that. But just funny that all of a sudden that's a good title to have on a resume in Augusta. Easy money betting on this choice.

loretta
25
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loretta 07/18/14 - 03:45 pm
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We don't need another motivational speaker

Dichotomy is wrong in his comments above- Rodriguez, by far the best candidate for the job - has been a city administrator his entire career. I hope the commenters have been wrong about the "shoo-in" being the motivational speaker - that is NOT what Augusta needs. Let's make the responsible choice.

loretta
25
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loretta 07/18/14 - 03:46 pm
0
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We don't need another motivational speaker

Dichotomy is wrong in his comments above- Rodriguez, by far the best candidate for the job - has been a city administrator his entire career. I hope the commenters have been wrong about the "shoo-in" being the motivational speaker - that is NOT what Augusta needs. Let's make the responsible choice.

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