Magazine article Public Management

The Mayor Is under Attack

Magazine article Public Management

The Mayor Is under Attack

Article excerpt

Q. The mayor has asked the town manager to take the lead in defending her character against recent attacks by her detractors. These individuals have criticized the mayor for using a town cell phone for personal business. The cell phone plan that the town provides covers a certain number of minutes, and the mayor's monthly charges often exceed the plan's allowance. Although the mayor often makes some reimbursement to the town for excess charges, her critics charge that the mayor has been unethical in asking the town to pay for some of the out-of-plan charges.

The critics also say that the mayor has lied to residents, making campaign promises that she never intended to keep. The town manager is sympathetic to the mayor as the town's finances have been strained since she was elected. The town has had to make tough choices just to maintain town services, so some of the mayor's priorities for service improvements have been put on the back burner.

The town manager seeks advice on how to deal with the mayor's requests. He believes that some of the mayor's critics might decide to run for town council in the future. He is uncomfortable taking the lead in responding to the attacks, although he sees the need to respond to issues related to city services.

A. It is important for the town manager to stay above the fray when there are political attacks on individual members of the town council, including the mayor. Defending the conduct of an individual elected official could make it appear that the town manager is a political operative, rather than a professional. …

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