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A Solution for City Government: “Columbia needs a turnaround specialist.”

February 22, 2009

By Curtis M. Loftis, Jr.

We all know the sad state of affairs concerning Columbia’s city government, so there is not much point of listing our shortfalls now. We also know that it is easier to moan and groan than to offer solutions.

So let me swim against the current, and suggest a reasonable, swift and sophisticated course of action aimed at transforming the city government of Columbia from being the object of scorn, to being a model of efficiency and service.

We need someone to act as a turnaround specialist, not a career bureaucrat. We need an executive that will consent to a short term contract, not a long period of employment. We need an experienced executive looking for a substantial and perhaps final challenge, not a careerist looking to “move on up”, using Columbia as a stepping stone of advancement. We need a person of strong character that will speak truth to power, require honesty and forthrightness in all affairs, and have the ability to understand the complex enterprise that is city government. We need someone that is not steeped in Columbia politics, and its personal entanglements.

In short, we need someone that can quickly evaluate hundreds of problems, and not be afraid to “pull the trigger” to repair them…and do it quickly enough to outdraw the various special interests groups that have helped create this mess. We need someone that can look City Council, the Mayor and the taxpayer in the eye, and without blinking, tell the truth, and then explain what that truth means to the people of this city. We need someone with a steady hand and an accurate aim, and the courage and ability to use both.

Einstein said it best: “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” If our city leaders continue expensive, complex, nationwide searches for atypical government official, we will fail yet again. Only by changing the selection paradigm can our city government succeed.

Columbia needs a temporary chief executive that is willing to serve for 18 to 24 months, and is unafraid, and unrepentant in his or her willingness to make city government serve the citizenry.

And most importantly, we need this person now and not after 8 or 10 months of scouring the nation looking for the “perfect candidate” to lead us for the decade to come.

There are those that can and will take this burden and thrive, but they can only do so if given the opportunity. Now is the time for our city leaders to look into their souls and decide if they desire more of the same, or if it is time to honor the hard working people of Columbia with change that is meaningful and measurable. A turnaround specialist as chief executive, with spirit, an ethic of hard work, and the expectation of success is what Columbia needs, and I pray this day that this is was she receives.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Freddy permalink
    February 22, 2009 10:36 PM

    This is a wonderful idea. There are several people in Columbia that come to mind at once as suitable for this job. I hope this idea takes root. Columbia needs change!

  2. Chris permalink
    February 22, 2009 10:39 PM

    The better the idea, the less chance that Columbia will do it. Columbia is a pit…and it needs help.

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