Is there a City Manager Gary Sandberg in our future?

There was an article in the Peoria Journal Star discussing the possibility that current at-large council member Gary Sandberg might be a candidate for city manager of the city of Peoria.

 It will never happen.

 Now don’t get me wrong. Sandberg knows more about city administration than just about anybody. He knows what questions to ask of city employees. His bullcrap detector is almost never wrong.

 But Gary Sandberg will never, ever be hired as Peoria city manager. The ability to competently manager the city’s operations is rather low on the list of priorities for the council. The main skill they seem to want is the ability to count to six, six being a majority of 11. They want a guy who will do what they want, which seems to be whatever Caterpillar, the Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce or Bradley University want them to do.

 This is why during a year of budget shortfalls, we are thinking up new ways to fund hotel development projects while we lay off police officers.

 Sandberg consistently casts votes in opposition to this sort of backwards thinking. He is often the lone “no” vote for this sort of fiscal malpractice. Yet Sandberg is a serious candidate for the job of implementing the sort of things he votes against? Hardly.

 I’ve worked as a reporter in other communities where the powers-that-be decided that the best qualified person for a chief administrator job was someone the voters decided to throw out of office as a policy maker. In THAT case, they simply wanted someone already on the inside to implement the sorts of things the insiders wanted to continue.

 Gary Sandberg is no insider.

 Yet the Journal Star writes a supposedly serious article about the implications of Sandberg applying for this job. I’m guessing he would have to quite as city council person before he could even apply for the job. So this might be wishful thinking by someone who wants to get rid of Sandberg, who is currently running for re-election.

 I’d vote for Sandberg for mayor in an instant, but only if Peoria dumps the council-manager form of government for a strong mayor form, one in which an elected mayor is also the chief administrator. Right now, the chief administrator has 11 masters to try to appease, which leads to the hiring of “yes” men who lack real power, because they can’t fire department heads who do their best to suck up to council members.

 I’d also settle for electing five other council members who vote like Sandberg. Trouble is, we vote for people who say they will vote like Sandberg, but they sometimes disappoint us.

So long Ron Santo

 Ron Santo died. The former Cubs third baseman didn’t live long enough to see the team reach the World Series. He also never was selected to enter the Hall of Fame. The former can be blamed on years of bad teams, bad coaching and bad owners. That he was left out of the Hall cannot be blamed on anything other than ignorance. Of course, they will let any idiot cast a ballot as a sportswriter, even people who know apparently little about baseball. But the members of the veterans committee left him out cannot be explained by any honest reason.

 I’ll miss listening to the “Pat and Ron Show” on WGN Radio.

 Combine that with greedy new owners who want taxpayers to pay for renovations at Wrigley Field, and I find it harder and harder to remain a fan.

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