Newburyport, City Manager

I cannot tell you how much I long for a city manager form of government. And the fact that two gentleman from the opposite sides of the Newburyport aisle, so to speak, agree that it is a good idea to have a dialogue about this possibility warms my little heart (and so close to Valentines Day too).

I cannot get behind the idea that we need someone who is “one of us,” that only one of the “Newburyport family” could be trusted to do this huge, civic, administrative job. That an “outsider” could not be trusted .

Newburyport, MA is a multi-million municipal operation. Multi-million operations are run by trained professionals who know what they are doing. And the more I blog about Newburyport, MA, the more I understand how unbelievably complicated running this place can be. Good grief.

And do I really think all the trained CEO’s who have the talent and expertise to run Newburyport, MA, who live in this community would consider leaving their jobs and take on the responsibility, much less the yummy politics of this place? I think that the answer to that question is a big fat “no.”

And it is my opinion that Mr., Mrs. or Ms regular Newburyport human being do not have the training for this kind of overwhelming administrative, daunting, complicated conundrum.

However, there are actually people who train for this nightmare of a job description and actually want to do it. They are city managers, town managers and they get paid the right kind of money that it takes to look at the kind of tangled mess we weave (or for that matter the mess that any municipality weaves).

And we would get to fire this human being if he or she or it isn’t doing the administrative job we think he, she or it should be doing.

In theory this is supposed to make our ship sail a little smoother. Well, hopefully a whole lot smoother.

Being mayor of Newburyport, MA used to be an “honor.” These days it’s a nightmare triathlon. For a whole variety of reasons (which would be a whole other post, or a whole series of posts, if not a PhD thesis) the days of being the mayor being an “honor” are long gone in the dark ages of Newburyport, MA.

So I am very glad that Newburyport City Councilor James Shanley and Newburyport City Councilor Erford Fowler have come forth and together proposed taking a good hard look at what having a city manager form of government might entail.

Do I think the residents of Newburyport, MA are going to have an open mind in general about this one? No, I do not. However, I do believe the discussion is a vital one to have. And if we start having the discussion now in the year 2007, maybe in 2 centuries or so, we might actually do something concrete about it.

Mary Eaton
Newburyport, MA