Category

Opinion

Municipal, News, Opinion

Can Open Checkbooks Promote Transparency In Local Governments and Prevent Theft?

The recent news in the Oakland Press about the City of Oak Park’s former clerk siphoning $433,000 out of the city’s coffers over a 2-year period made me think … would a higher level of transparency by the city have been able to thwart such an incident?

Within the Munetrix toolbox is a Dynamic Check Register that takes the transparency discussion to the next level.  Local governments have the ability to export their vendor accounts payable files directly from their accounting software into a publicly accessible, searchable database.  Some refer to this as “Open Checkbook” but it by itself is only a fraction what it takes to truly be transparent.

Municipal, News, Opinion

Police: Tough and Smart

As Mayor Pro-tem for the City of Auburn Hills, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to address the men and women in uniform at the Annual Police Department Awards Banquet Dinner.  Below are my my remarks.  

I’m honored to have the opportunity to share in this important function with you and your families tonight. I’ll work to keep my comments to a minimum.  When I tried to think up words that best describe my view of what it means to be a police officer, I came up with the following list:

  • Hard Working
  • Smart
  • Caringpolice-hat
  • Transparent
  • Ethical
  • Dedicated

I’m sure I missed a couple, but I’ll take a couple minutes to share how I correlate each of those to your public servitude.

Fiscal Health, Municipal, News, Opinion

Local Government Early Warning Indicators

There is no shortage of articles and white papers addressing the topic of “Local Government Early Warning Indicators.” However, very few offer a concise methodology to address the issue; and most don’t draw any meaningful recommendations to address the dynamics local governments face in today’s new normal.

According to an Alison Wiltshire paper, Developing Early Warning Systems: A Checklist, there are four elements of a people-centered Early Warning System. Why people-centered? Because the average person must be able to grasp the concepts of the message heeded. Mathematicians, researchers and academics are not the ones who will be dealing with a fiscal calamity as it unfolds. The concept of “early” indicates that one would want to understand the issue well in advance in order to act proactively.

Opinion

The Job of a Public Official: Making the Tough Choices

imagesWe commend those who are willing to serve their public institutions, because being an elected official is sure fraught with it challenges. As Mayor Pro-Tem for the City of Auburn Hills, Michigan, I see it first-hand.

Why? Because making tough choices is often not very popular.  But if decisions are made for the right reasons, using the appropriate data and analysis, it is the job of the policymakers, as fiduciaries for their communities, to do what is in the best interest of the city (or school or library or ??), always with respect to the health, safety and welfare of its citizens.

The village board in Holly, Michigan recently voted to use the county sheriff for emergency 911 dispatch – which will save the village considerable money, provide outstanding service, and reduce the burden of having to fund periodic capital equipment upgrades.

In return for their analysis and courage to make a tough decision, the board is now facing recall petitions from angry residents who for some reason do not feel the board made the right decision. The recall petition was denied last week on a technicality.

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