Thursday, November 10, 2011

Let’s Change the Form of Havre City Government

I am not going to try and pretend the folks at the Corrector are not happy about the results of Havre’s city election. Getting Bob Kaul replaced with a man of some apparent intelligence that is not the type to antagonize and obstruct progress will be a welcome change. Also the fact that Bonnie Parenteau and Brian Barrows will be replacing two retiring council people will give the council an entirely new makeup and thought process.

What is most interesting is that for the first time in decades the city governing body is made up of an even split of republicans and democrats which should go a long way to ending the political party game playing. They may just have to get along to get anything done. Looking ahead to the next council election in 2013 the local republicans will be in a position to take control of the council. The only republican up for election at that time will be Bob Kaftan but the democrats will have to defend 3 seats so if the republicans continue with the gains we have seen the last few years we would predict they will pick up enough seats to control the council.

The apparent problem that comes to mind is the fear that a republican majority would allow them to ram controversial council actions down the minority democrats throats just as they have done to the republicans all these years. Due to our past sad history with democrat politics in Have I am of course willing to take that chance but wouldn’t it make more sense to try and change our city government to a city manager type of operation with non-partisan council positions instead of continuing on with our present political back-biting with political parties and untrained mayors that really aren’t capable of managing a city?

If we hired a city manager that was actually educated in the job of managing a city wouldn’t we save money in the long run? If with this change in our form of government the council and honorary mayor positions were elected without thought to what party they belonged to wouldn’t we see more people with actual business experience and common sense actually file to run for these offices?

If you agree that we should at least take a look at changing our system of city government why don’t you give some of our council people a call and tell them that you would support a new direction. It is high time we took a look at a more efficient non-political form of government.

The new council will be made up of Andrew Brekke, Woody Woodwick, Rick Dow, Bob Kaftan, Brian Barrows, Janet Tretheway, Bonnie Parenteau, and Jerry Vies


  1. Elected city officials should be non-partisan. It is a distraction to the business that needs to be handled.

    Now the HDC, who purports to be conservative, is advocating spending MORE money on ANOTHER city supervisor. Kind of ironic considering how much time and space this blog devotes to criticizing supervisors of Havre City employees.

    We do not need the gridlock that is bound to happen because of party ties. We need the water to work, emergency and garbage services to work, and we will need snow removed from the streets this winter.

    I can just imagine what a disaster a city manager would be. Hiring someone would be as difficult as a Supreme Court appointee passing the Senate. Afterwards, whichever political party which feels it is getting shorted would waste all the city council business time cutting the City Managers funding or hamstringing him or her in any way possible.

    I would hope that the elected officials will be able to rise above time and resource wasting petty bickering. They are elected to handle the business of the people of Havre, and hopefully will be able to do that rather than posturing for their respective party.

  2. I doubt a manager would cost the city much more than we are paying now in waste and fraud

    Most definitely we need council people with no party affiliations

  3. DeConstructor we are in no way advocating for the hiring of an additional supervisor. A city manager would replace inept management. First we pay the mayor around $20,000 per year to do absolutely nothing. Mayor Dim hasn’t made a single solitary decision that hasn’t later been overturned or he has folded his position on. With a city manager the mayor would be an honorary position as head of the council and his duties would include cutting ribbons and presiding at the council meetings. His salary could be cut to match the council members at $200 per month. A city manager would provide trained management that would replace some of the work that is currently supposed to be done by the director of public works and other department heads. I would assume we could cut one full time position that is currently held by a person inept in his or her job performance so deduct another $60,000 or so in salary cost which could go to fund the city manager position along with the $20,000 wasted on the mayor’s salary. In addition the City of Havre misses out on many grants and other available funds because the paperwork is never completed and submitted or something is bungled in the whole process because nobody has the expertise to get it done. There are many places where a decent city manger could increase revenue.

    Currently the tail is wagging the dog and our $200 per month “executives” meet twice a month for a little yes’um session. If we ever come to the point where we hire a city manager and could not save at least double the cost of the managers salary I will voluntarily fold my tent and quit blogging and bitching

  4. So HDC-

    The natural change according to your reasoning would be to place Dave Peterson or Jeff Jensen in the position of city manager, if their position were eliminated, since they have experience with the inner workings of the city and its equipment.

    Or are you suggesting a someone such as Bob Rice be put in the position?

  5. Good Grief NO!

    All three were/are part of the problem – Not the solution

    City managers are actually schooled to manage a city and be the professional City CEO

  6. Say what you want about mayor Bob but the guy put his whole heart into the job full time

    Tomorrows friday so why don't you try calling city hall tomorrow after noon and ask to speak to either the mayor, Jenson or Peterson and see what response you get

  7. I don't mean to overbelabor this point, however, I think there are qualified people in Havre that can do this job, probably currently employed by the city.

    Perhaps I am missing the point of this thread but it sounds to me that the HDC is advocating terminating the employment of a city supervisor, just to bring someone in from out of town in the hopes they would perform the job better, apparently for less money. (How about former school supt. Dave Mahon?)

    In addition to that being a direct insult to anyone employed by the city, or anyone in Havre that is unemployed (and we have many) I assume the HDC would also recommend that persons currently in the position should train and familiarize the new, out of town person with the systems and equipment of the city before their employment is terminated.

    I cannot imagine the animosity that would create. If I were employed by the city, and represented by collective bargaining, I would ready to put up picket signs.

    Havre has very qualified people to handle its municipal needs.

  8. @Joe Redneck

    Tomarrow (friday) is also a holiday. I imagine many government offices are closed as are banks etc.

    A really big thanks to all our veterans.

  9. You are right Decon

    Tomorrow is a holiday

    Try making the call next friday afternoon

    or the week after

  10. Having a city manager-commission form of gov't has it's problems as well: just consider the $$$ losses in Great Falls because the then city manager wanted to get into the electric production business, let alone the $$$ lost on the Lewis & Clark bi-centennial promotion and the $$$ lost by taking over the animal shelter.

  11. I followed the Great Falls council some because of their involvement with the Highwood coal plant and your city commissioners voted to OK every one of those things Walter so they are still the board of directors over the city manager

    Do you actually think Petersen or Jensen has the degree or financial ability to be a city manager Deconstruct? The budget is in the millions with a large workforce and personally I am not impressed with the way they run their own department

    I don't know if a city manager would help but it is obvious that something needs to change. What do you propose that would be better? What are our options?

  12. Superman, when one of the city commissioners was defeated for re-election, that person thanked the then city manager for working under him.

    As constructed, noen of the city commissioners has the time or independent staff to truly review what the city manager puts in front of them for their so-called approval.

    None of the city commissioners has an official office at the city commission building, let alone a group office.

    The weakness in the Montana version of the city manager-commission form of gov't is that the city manager reports to the city commission as a whole. It would be better if the city manager reported to the mayor, and then at least one person could be held accountable come election time.

  13. I agree with superman,Jenson and Peterson need to go.And if anyone disagrees with that,they haven't driven in havre during the winter.
    Instead of worrying about petty peoples messy yards and how many viscous dogs people own,or where and how long people can park downtown.They need to worry about the winter streets,because its just a matter of time before someone gets killed.