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Wednesday, November 30, 2022
Home Government Sack: 11 Easy Ways to Make a Big Difference

Sack: 11 Easy Ways to Make a Big Difference

By Joe Sack, Rye City Councilman

The council ought to promote more openness and transparency, and create more checks and balances in city government by making the following changes:

  1. Appoint two attorneys in the community to serve as volunteer co-Inspector Generals.  Give them subpoena power.  Refer them matters for investigation, including matters involving the city manager, mayor and council.
  2. Allow all council members to request and obtain information and documents from the city manager at any time without having to go through the mayor.
  3. Allow the council to conduct periodic meetings directly with department heads without having to go through the city manager.
  4. Require the city manager to consult with the council before making employment decisions regarding department heads.
  5. Make the council the appellate body to hear all FOIL appeals instead of the city manager.
  6. Ensure that all public meetings are properly noticed pursuant to the Open Meetings Law.
  7. Prohibit department heads from engaging in any outside employment or consulting whatsoever, whether paid or unpaid.

With regard to the Rye Golf Club specifically:

  1. Hire a separate independent auditor, with a specialty in auditing club operations, to audit the books and records of the golf club on a monthly basis.
  2. Give the golf club commission real power, by allowing the commission to hire and fire the golf club manager in consultation with the city manager, and requiring the golf club manager to report to both the commission and the city manager.  The commission needs more authority, not less, and a separate oversight board made up of non-members is not the answer.
  3. Hold elections by the membership this year to fill all spots on the newly-empowered commission.
  4. Ensure that all contracts are awarded and all invoices are paid with the approval of both the city manager and the commission, and in a public forum.

Joe Sack
Rye City Councilman

  1. French walks around like a little Napoleon. The Mayor should never prevent a Councilman from accessing City records, or control whether or not a City Manager responds to a Councilman’s inquiry. I agree with Bob Zahm’s point to grant the authority to request and obtain info to the rest of the Council. Sure, an honest Mayor and an honest City Manager would also fix many of these problems, but that looks like it won’t happen until 2014. French: When will you announce if you are running for re-election? I can’t wait to see what you’ll decide. Time is ticking… Scott should start looking for a new job.

  2. Good to see additional ideas being generated for improving Rye City’s governance. Re the RGC recommendations:
    #3 – Why new elections? Is there an issue w/ the current membership of the RGC Commission? Pursuing this point would seem to say that the Commission hasn’t been doing its job. Given the lack of authority / control it has now, that would seem to be more a problem of the Council than the Commission.
    #2 – Giving the RGC Commission authority over the Club Manager’s hiring and firing aligns the Commission’s authority with the expectations of the Club’s membership and many others in the community. However, is this reform consistent with the State’s Civil Service employment laws? Can the City delegate such authority to the Commission? And by doing so, does it mean that the City Manager has no say in the running of the RGC? If so, this change fundamentally restructures the City’s form of government as the Council will be moving power to itself (effectively) away from the City Manager. Additionally, wouldn’t a similar reform be good for Rye Rec and the Boat Commission? Shouldn’t they also become self-sustaining operations?
    #4 and #1 both try to ensure that there are proper controls over spending by the RGC Manager. They are duplicative of each other. Asking the Commission members to signoff on every invoice would be as effective as the State law which asks School Boards to do the same. Such Boards / Commissions may be presented with the invoices – in as much detail as they want – but they don’t / won’t really dig into the details of each invoice. Would you look into why $9.95 was spent for delivery of overnight express envelope? It’s just not practical. Instead, a system of realistic management reporting with comparison against budget and prior year spending as well as drill-down to individual invoices plus some sort of benchmarking against costs for other similar facilities is needed. Such reporting would enable all to assess whether or not the club was being run efficiently. But this kind of reform takes an investment in the reporting itself.

  3. Does Rye have to have a city manager form of government? Can the people decide to change it by voting? Does city charter have to change? Didn’t our founding father clearly state if 1 form of govt doesn’t work the people have the right to change it? I know council members and mayor don’t get paid and need for a city manager per say. But since Culross retired first time around, govt in this town is a mess. I doubt French runs way too many people hate him and his cronies. i dont see any of them getting elected. Another note Rye expanded too much. Too bad it didnt stay a little town with a lot of open space and land.

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