One of the important first lessons that new members of governing bodies usually learn is that they are politicians, confined to the world of policymaking. They are not administrators who direct the operations of given departments or programs. There is often a temptation for them to overstep their boundaries and not be willing to recognize the legal limitations placed on their positions.
The actions involving the City Council and the Multi-Use Complex (MUC) natatorium is a classic case in point.The Council had the recent responsibility of making pivotal decisions regarding the direction of the facility, which, in turn, should be based on the status and conditions of municipal finances. Reversely, any natatorium decision will also have a definite direct and future impact on finances and other budget considerations and priorities, and, potentially debt and tax rates.
City Council had the fiduciary obligation to taxpayers to examine, question and confer in open session on the various options available on the natatorium's next stage. Whatever decision made will have long term effects on other services for residents.
Council, instead, shirked its responsibility to listen to and study the reports and options prepared for them by staff. Special financial and MUC natatorium workshops, both recommended by staff , were intentionally avoided by council members.
Members of any governing body have to understand and respect the role and duty of staff to present them with pertinent and critical information that needs to be a vital part of any policy decision-making process. It is certainly not something that should be ignored and pushed aside. Politicians are not accountants, engineers, or similar experts. Legislators cannot just assume they have some special knowledge or expertise that allows them to disregard staff input and essential information associated with public issues.
Taxpayers have an inherent right to expect and demand that their representatives will always follow a process that is based on real knowledge and legitimate lines of communication and authority. Its council's mandated responsibility.