Wednesday, October 17, 2007

You Can Go Flynn, You Can Go Out...

The flap over Springfield Police Commission Edward Flynn's potential cross-country move has reverberated throughout city government and into this year's election season.

First of all, the outrage (while mostly confined to City Councilors running for re-election), is to a point justified. People expected that Flynn would be making an investment in the city and this appears that he will not be.

That being said, all of the evidence suggests that Flynn's story, that Milwaukee's national search committee came to him, is true. The stories from the Sentinel-Journal and the Milwaukee blogosphere support his version of history.

Once again calling on the administration to act as a substitute for having a real campaign, Mayoral Candidate Domenic Sarno called upon the city to fire or ask him to tender his resignation rather than wait for the results of the Milwaukee search.

According to Heather Brandon's Urban Compass, reporting from a City Hall press conference, such an action would cost the city severance pay. City Solicitor Ed Pikula stated that were Flynn to resign at the City's suggestion, Flynn could expect a year's pay as severance. Luckily, Pikula indicated that Sarno's demand isn't likely to count. Only an official city request count. Still, Mayor Ryan requested that Sarno not make such a demand again to be on the safe side.

Incidentally, Urban Compass also discussed the political implications of the city acting on Sarno's pontifications. While Ryan and the city have followed through on only a few issues, it created potential political problems for Ryan. Interestingly, while Flynn's possible departure does not look good, the legal wranglings of Flynn's contract could benefit Ryan.

Speaking to the City Solicitor is a wise common sense decision, not politically based at all. However, finding out that asking Flynn to resign could cost the city a hundred grand make Sarno's demand look bad and Ryan's refusal to ask for the resignation look smart. Now, Sarno looks foolish and more importantly uninformed. Do we really want a mayor who doesn't get all the facts or just blurts out what sounds good neglecting the ramifications?

The entire Flynn debacle also brings up an interesting problem in looking for important city officials. Obviously, it is beyond me to say how Milwaukee runs itself, but these national search groups have often created problems. There are problems with the "public hearings," which often cow to public input defeating the purpose of removing the decision from politicians. Similar problems were encountered as Boston sought out a new Schools/Education Director. It creates situation such as this one where cities end up trying to steal each others officials. Springfield will be undergoing this process sooner or later as School Superintendent Joseph Burke will not be around too too much longer.

What is the solution? Who knows. But the system that is in place to find the "best" candidate often falls short and discredits itself amidst a different set of political circumstances.

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