I have seen this idea mentioned several times by people who should know better. And here’s the latest example from the testimony from Tia Torhorst in her support of Representative Joe Sanfelippo’s Assemby Bill 85 (as reprised by Zach earlier this week):
I would sit in a County Board committee meeting with 4 or 5 department heads, their fiscal staff, the division head overseeing the project on the agenda and several other staff associated with the issue. These meetings would often take 5 or more hours. 25 staff people sitting in a room for 5 hours for a brief appearance on an entirely administrative item. Add in the time it takes to write and review the written reports and you can understand the frustration of employees who just want to do what they thought they were hired to do versus become the literal bureaucratic paper pusher.
First of all, let’s not confuse bad management with bad government. Yes it is dysfunctional to make department heads and other personnel sit through hours and hours of meetings when they play a small part in it. Their testimony or question/answer session should be conveniently scheduled and they should be dismissed when they are done. That is bad management…
Second, AB 85 doesn’t prevent that from occurring. The bill prevents county supervisors from approaching department heads directly or interfering with department operations…they need to work through the county executive’s office for that…the exception being when they are responding to a direct issue or concern from a constituent. The bill still allows the board to call department heads and county personnel to appear before the board or board committees…that hasn’t gone away and is a necessary part of their job…this is good government.