Time to opt for the ‘best of all possible worlds’

Friday, November 8, 2019


Sometimes I have to check to see if The Enterprise reporter and I went to the same meeting. The Nov. 6 article, “City Hears from local government expert,” to me was misleading.

The meeting was recorded. You can watch it for yourself at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2_4SpXoUIVk (The discussion below begins at about 1:31 into the recording.) The discussion is within the context of the chairwoman of the Livingston City Commission Dorel Hoglund’s request that Dan Clark show the advantages and disadvantages of the five different kinds of government possible in Montana. Dan spoke of the disadvantages of having a mayor only and that is where, I believe, The Enterprise reporter obtained his quotes. However, what is being proposed in the petition circulating around town is to have a mayor with a city manager under him/her, and that was praised by Dan Clark. 

To quote the local government expert, Dan Clark, directly:  “I will say, Missoula has an elected mayor. They are at risk. All right. It’s a political appointment and Missoula has a lot of politics. You can get someone in there who may not have the capacity to deal with what Missoula has. Right now they have, what I would consider, a very competent, capable person (mayor) who is running the city of Missoula. But what is just below him is a CEO (Chief Administrative Officer) who does the day-to-day operations. He has a professional. They pay that professional just the same amount as you pay a city manager, so, you have a mayor who is taking a decent salary who is doing a lot of work. You also have a CEO who is doing a lot of work. Not necessarily a cheaper option for you, but if you want a well-run organization that is anticipating the future, making sure that you are making good decisions so that you are not getting behind the 8-ball on your capital investments, and your planning. You are bringing in people who help make decisions on your future …” 

He then spoke of Glendive and Laurel, communities around our size, which have a mayor with a CEO and staff as well as a commission. He said, “So they have a mayor that is political, that is responsive to the people, who is out there reaching out to the public, hearing their needs, but then has someone who has the capacity to day-to-day operations, so you have got the best of all possible worlds.”

“You have the best of all possible worlds.”

That is what, we who are distributing the petition for mayor/city manager/commission for Livingston want. We think it is necessary to have everything going for us as we move in to a future we choose collectively with a Growth Policy and the wisdom we need to stay a real town and not a suburb of Bozeman. We believe we need all of the help we can get and this can help immensely. 

Also, the petition process does not “involve a small faction of the community,” as The Enterprise article implied. A significant number of registered voters are required to get the issue of mayor/manager/commission on the ballot, but then the issue goes before the voters at large. 

Please consider signing the petition. We will publish a number of places you can sign. (Right now there is a petition in the lobby of the Grabow Building at 204 E. Callender St.)

Time to opt for, according to Dan Clark, expert on local government, the “best of all possible worlds.” 

Patricia Grabow