Efforts to keep citizens happy is a relentless struggle within city management. Lack of finances and fiscal management make it difficult to create jobs, rebuild infrastructure and boost the economy in the community. The Oakdale Administrator Case study is a standard and familiar case of politics. This critique will discuss the facts of the case, identify issues, the decisions made and my opinion of any solutions.
In 1941, Oakdale became a city, creating positions for a Mayor and board of alderman (Cropf, Giancola, & Loutzenhiser, 2016, p. 80). It appears to be in economic decline which makes it difficult for new businesses to invest and attract new residents. The city has been troubled by and is trying to recuperate from the following listed issues:
1. Poor decision making by citizens to overwhelmingly support an inexperienced mayor and his decision to hire a city manager that had an infamous reputation throughout the region and her unethical violations to the alderman (Cropf, Giancola, & Loutzenhiser, 2016, p. 83).
2. The population is 5,000 with a lower-middle-class median income of $47,869 and a median house value of $100,900 (Cropf, Giancola, & Loutzenhiser, 2016, p. 80). Silver Lake City, Oakdale’s neighbor, has a population of 7,000, but its median income is $109,345, and the median house value is $359,888 (Cropf, Giancola, & Loutzenhiser, 2016, p. 81).
3. Behind regarding revenue and expenditures, operating on an annual city budget of 3.5 million dollars (Cropf, Giancola, & Loutzenhiser, 2016, p. 80).
When Mayor Bean was in a position of power, he boasted about what he did in office and everything he managed to ‘fix.’ Hoffnagel, a car salesman by profession in his late fifties, ran his campaign on reviving the city by bringing in new businesses and residents” (Cropf, Giancola, & Loutzenhiser, 2016, p. 81). Upon Hoffnagel’s victory, he downplayed Bean’s efforts and promised to fix everything his predecessor could not. In a small town that works because it is easier to advance and apply these pledged changes, this would not be the circumstance in a large city.
Also, he brought in his team, dismissing the old administration. Although this is not new, for example, presidents, when they come into power, can choose a new cabinet or staff. Unfortunately, the adage “out with the old and in with the new” created problems for the new mayor. As he staffed based on friendship – hiring Angela Donny after knowing her for twenty years and working with her for five of those years (Cropf, Giancola, & Loutzenhiser, 2016, p. 82). By hiring one of his friends, he made the mistake of choosing with emotion instead of logic. Angela Donny had issues before being hired, working in no less than eight municipalities in twelve years (Cropf, Giancola, & Loutzenhiser, 2016, p. 82). She had poor decision-making abilities, particularly her lack of due process of RFPs, not giving all interested parties an equal opportunity to bid on contracts. This kind of behavior led to negative results for the new mayor and a disappointing start to a new team.
The now Mayor Hoffnagel promised change in the housing inspection policy
and a new modern look for retail centers as well as proper maintenance of them (Cropf,
Giancola, & Loutzenhiser, 2016, p. 81). He presented his promises to the residents in a manner that made it seem like things would be progressive, and there would be great outcomes. This is not uncommon when it comes to politicians; people expect some false promises. By nature, because of his experience as a car salesman, he displayed more promises than he could keep and the disappointment when things went wrong were more significant because the residents held him to his word and entrusted him. By getting rid of people that had historical knowledge of the town and the policies in it, it made it more difficult to successfully implement the kind of changes he promised to Oakdale’s citizens. Eventually, the ICMA Committee on Professional Conduct led to the termination of Donny, followed by the resignation of the Mayor Hoffnagel. An interim mayor by name Marie Clarkson was selected and an interim city administrator, Paul Asher. It was an appropriate decision (Cropf, Giancola, & Loutzenhiser, 2016, p. 84-85).
Transparency was needed from the beginning to solve the financial and other problems. The best solution for this scenario would be an entirely new administration without the likes of Donny and to not go through with the project and put money into other businesses. Possibly even making the city look vintage by preserving historical landmarks; using less money by fixing up current buildings rather than building a complex that the city cannot afford.
In conclusion, the newly appointed mayor lacked the qualities of an effective
leader. His decisions went against the will of the community and appointing Donny was a
complete disaster because the residents did not trust her. She created havoc in the city with the project proposal when she makes a quick decision of assigning the contract without even giving a chance to the other bidders and also failing to consult the other colleagues. In this scenario and always, personal desires and ethics should always take a back seat to professional ethics. Administration appointments should not be based on connections rather than work ethics and behavior. This the case study reveals how an individual decision can hinder an entire city.
Cropf, R., Giancola, J. and Loutzenhiser, K. (2016). The Public Administration Casebook. 1st ed.
London and New York: Routledge, pp.80-85.