A broken system that needs fixing
The recent saga of Aspen City Hall should teach that a city manager left in place for decades becomes City Council’s master, not its servant. Moreover, any long-serving city manager accumulates long-remembered mistakes and steadily loses public confidence. How did this happen?
Little known is section 6.1 of the Aspen Home Rule Charter, which requires that the city manager be employed “without definite term.” Thus, the city manager’s employment is at the will of City Council, but his employment need not be reviewed on a regular basis.
Accordingly, only a crisis leads to change. (Current council practice is to hold an annual performance review, but somehow council overlooked accumulated missteps.) This has permitted council after council to duck the requirement of deciding whether to continue the city manager’s employment or seek another for the position.
If candidates for council or mayor want to help the city avoid another city manager debacle, they should promote a city charter amendment to force City Council to decide periodically whether to retain the city manager. His champions and his critics would have to make their cases on a regular basis.
I recommend an amendment that would 1. Require the city manager’s employment be for a two-year period with the possibility of unlimited successive two year renewals upon a majority vote of city council; and 2. Require the expiration date of each two-year employment term to fall midway between biannual municipal elections (to minimize the political component of council’s decision whether to renew).
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The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.
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On Saturday, the 20th anniversary of 9/11, Aspen fire, police EMS and the veterans made us all proud to be members of this community. The 9/11 Day of Remembrance Ceremony at the Aspen firehouse was a reverent tribute for those who lost their lives while protecting and serving us.