Monrovia State of the City Sees Two Bombshells Drop

Boom goes the dynamite.

First off, Monrovia’s Mayor Tom Adams used the annual address to put forward the idea of the city ditching a directly-elected mayor and return to a rotationally selected mayor, which Monrovia had until 1978.

Mayor Adams described the potential move as “[removing] a distraction from taking care of your business.” Adams also compared Monrovia to nearby cities of comparable size and that the majority of them did not have directly-elected mayors.

To further illustrate his point, he also broke up the State of the City and delegated sections of the address to the city council to speak on. Which led to Councilman Alex Blackburn’s bombshell.

Councilman Blackburn chose to go off-script and spoke frankly, very frankly. While he quickly knocked out his slated section on development and execution of city projects, he then transitioned into what could easily be seen as an indictment on the City Council, including himself.

He first called for the recognition that Monrovia has “limited staffing resources” and therein a risk of spreading those staff members too thin which could lead to failed projects. Whether it is the council or a constituent calling for action, the council should make a better effort to say no.

Then in his closing words, he called on himself and the councilmembers to do better. Blackburn pointed out that in his experience he has “observed that there are private interests who see councilmembers as puppets. In fact, not just as puppets, but as simpleton puppets. They have observed that councilmembers are often easily distracted by flattery and sycophantic awards. They have observed that the real decision makers are often the professional staff, who too often act as intellectual handlers for councilmembers.”

Noting the success of the approach taken by private interests, the councilman called on himself and the rest of the council to “do a better job of setting aside our egos, and maintaining an ever vigilant critical eye, so that we can do the true work of the people, rather than letting the people get worked.”

After the address, the councilman said he hoped his comments would begin a discussion with the council as a whole as well as clarifying that his remarks were not aimed at any one member on the council.

More on the fireworks out in Monrovia can be found here and here.

Image Credit: Flickr User frrreda, via (CC BY-NC 2.0)