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It must just go with the territory. Los Alamos is home to some of the most complex and exciting scientific discoveries the world has ever known. That complexity and innate desire to study things without question extends to county government.
The Los Alamos County Council set the wheels in motion to hire a new county administrator last week. And while those wheels are a tad bit more square than round, they’re rolling nonetheless. The council is on the market for a new county administrator after the previous council unceremoniously sacked the last one “without cause” in December.
The wheels of what should have been and could have been a fast-track search were unnecessarily squared off when the council decided to expend the time and resources to reach out and directed county staff “to survey the community’s desired qualities for an administrator.” No doubt, the community should be involved in the process to some extent, but since when does Joe Sixpack know anything about the desired qualities for a county administrator? Couldn’t that be accomplished in a public comment segment at an upcoming council session?
If this is a preview of things to come from this new council, then it would appear they won’t be any better at executing their duly-elected duty to carry out the citizen’s business than the last council.
The ardor for analysis seems to pervade every nook and cranny of county government. Just check out the decision matrix (attached in Keven Todd’s blog at lamonitor.com) that county staff conjured up for councilors to mull over in relation to conducting the search in-house or whether to hire a headhunter.
Sure, one could argue the staff is just being thorough, but then they get 45 days to report back to council with a recommended Request for Proposals (RFP) to distribute to executive search firms. Citizens should be asking themselves why the process should take so long. It’s obvious from the decision matrix that they’ve used headhunters before, so why not just whip out the last RFP, dust it off and update that ... in say, maybe 20 minutes?
Think about it this way, if the newspaper, which also has a responsibility to uphold the public’s trust, took until mid or late March to report on the water main break and sinkhole on the Main Hill Road — that occurred Jan. 31 — then you would be questioning its relevance.
The council and county staff have managed to take what should be a relatively rapid and straightforward process only to make it needlessly labyrinthine. These unwitting co-conspirators who are turning county government into more of a plodding plowhorse as opposed to a thoroughbred racehorse, have once again shown that leadership by committee is a fatally flawed concept that if left to linger on by its citizenry could ultimately render Los Alamos ineffectual, irrelevant, and incapable of moving the people’s business forward.
The time is ripe for Los Alamos to have a real leader ... The time is now for the people to amend the county charter and institute a mayor/county manager form of government. Attend an upcoming Charter Review Committee meeting and help shape the future. Because without some dynamic change, Los Alamos is destined to remain bogged down in the glory days of its past. This county desperately needs a visionary leader who can move it forward into the future.
The next logical step involves moving away from at-large councilors to single-member districts where areas and neighborhoods can truly be represented equally on the county council. On the surface, this may appear to be a radical shift in thinking versus the current structure of government, but citizens have to ponder if Los Alamos can endure and survive another 30 or 40 years of analysis paralysis.
In the meantime, anyone care to wager that Randy Autio’s stint as interim county administrator gets extended beyond the six months councilors approved last week?