Letters to the Editor

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TACOMA: City manager system must change

Letter by Anders Ibsen, Tacoma on April 26, 2011 at 5:05 pm | 11 Comments »
April 28, 2011 1:03 pm

Eight years ago, Tacoma Police Chief David Brame shot his wife and himself in front of his two children. That alone was a senseless tragedy. But the real scandal was the cover-up that had preceded this murder-suicide for years.

City manager Ray Corpuz had been informed of Brame’s erratic and abusive behavior and did nothing to discipline or remove his dysfunctional subordinate. In the end, the City Council fired Corpuz in the wake of the tragedy. He still collects $101,392 in annual retirement benefits from our city, and will do so for the rest of his life.

City Manager Eric Anderson’s deception relating to the Zina Linnik investigation is disturbing enough. But what’s even more troubling is the repeating pattern of unaccountable cover-ups made possible by the structure of the city manager system.

If a mayor commits such an offense under a mayor-council system, the people can simply fire the mayor and start over. But the people can’t fire a city manager. In our present system, nine part-time council members with staggered terms, fed cherry-picked information from city staff who work for the city manager, are in no position to hold him accountable.

Firing the present city manager doesn’t go far enough. We need to ensure that unaccountable bureaucrats can never again wield this kind of power. The system itself needs to change.

(Ibsen has declared his intent to run for Tacoma City Council Position 1.)

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