Home > Topeka Capital-Journal Columns > Accept Locusts? Anyone?

Accept Locusts? Anyone?

December 2, 2010

I’ve never been city manager of a city that before me or after me said it had to live with potholes. My deal with my governing body was that first we organized the finances, second we organized and delivered the basic services, and then we would add services that added to the quality of life in the community. Street maintenance, water and waste treatment, and public safety were all basic services. No governing body of mine as city manager ever would accept less than complete handling of those services. As city manager, I would not accept less either.

Admitting there’s nothing we can do to get ahead of the problem is economic suicide for a community and an admission of failure. It shows no appetite or clue about how to correct the direction. Not only have I never been city manager in such a city, I’ve never lived in one that accepted potholes as something approaching a natural condition.

As city manager if I had public works director or city engineer who made such a statement, he would be gone. Not someday, but right now.

Then I’d find one who knew how to organize street maintenance and knew how to fix potholes. The woods is full of them.

It’s similar to having your head of water treatment say “we can’t clean the water, it’s too brown. We have to live with the condition.”

How about having a budget director or finance director say “I don’t know how to balance the budget.” Wouldn’t you get one right away who did?

I can go on and on with examples of behavior that would lead inevitably to a culture of surrender. To the locusts.

That’s unacceptable to me, as a citizen of the community.

%d bloggers like this: