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City Hall: A Wonderland

Ever wonder why little gets done in most towns? There are rules that govern the operation of City Hall, regulations learned at the university level and beyond...

You don't need a degree to understand them: They are as simple as me, me, me.

Rule One:
No matter what the issue or circumstance, always defend incompetence. Soundly criticize those who point such things out as individuals who are "not team players," "lack patience," "do not understand the system," or "have ulterior motives";

Rule Two:
Stall any measures or proposals you oppose or that may undermine your supreme authority. Schedule a series of meetings and call for in-depth studies; suggest hiring experts and consultants to analyze such proposals, and with an air of professional detachment, recommend consultants with whom you have close personal ties;

Rule Three:
When attempting to derail discussion of an issue or proposal, use key words like "process" and "consensus";

Rule Four:
When forced to do something you do not want to do, don't do it. When asked why the task was not completed, apologize profusely, slap yourself on the side of the face, say you are "a dumbo," that you "totally forgot, boy, I am so sorry." Then suggest the matter be put on the agenda next month;

Rule Five:
When the issue is discussed the following month, present cooked-up contradictory statistics, scratch your head, and warn that the matter may have unintended economic and legal ramifications; assert that after careful study it is clear the item requires more community input than originally thought. Suggest it be thoroughly examined at the next regularly scheduled meeting;

Rule Six:
At the next meeting, place the proposal at the end of a long agenda packed with other controversial items requiring extensive community input;

Rule Seven:
When members of the public come forward with complaints, deny the problems exist or claim it is the first you've heard about them. Ask for proof that the ceiling fell at the community center, that the streets are teaming with rats, that junkies are shooting up in the park, etc.;

Rule Eight:
If citizens offer concrete evidence of problems -- such as dead rats, used syringes -- call the police and have them arrested for disrupting a city meeting. If the protesters are popular figures, or if the audience turns on you, take the lead and immediately demand an investigation. Insist that YOU are going to get to the bottom of the problem, by God. Proclaim with righteous indignation that there be a full airing of the issue at the very next meeting;

Rule Nine:
If at the next meeting there is a large audience demanding action, appoint the most outspoken critic as chair of a task force to conduct an investigation; make sure the committee is packed with bureaucrats and your allies; schedule the meeting of the task force on Super Bowl Sunday, arguing it is a matter that must be addressed immediately;

Rule Ten:
When projects are not completed according to schedule and costs mount as a consequence, blame unforeseeable circumstances; suggest the council place the matter on the next ballot so citizens can exercise their democratic rights and vote for a tax increase;

Rule Eleven:
Keep things below the radar whenever possible; when required to notify the public about something you want to do that the people are against, bury the item in the consent calendar, and write reports and memos that require an attorney to decipher;

Rule Twelve:
When discussing a controversial subject at a meeting, double talk in triple time for as long as possible until you spot yawns in the audience and among council members; then hold opponents to strict times limits so the meeting won't last "all night";

Rule Thirteen:
Whenever possible, write the minutes of important meetings yourself, making certain to leave out points made by others not to your liking;

Rule Fourteen:
If things get very tough, take a medical leave for stress, or an extended vacation. If there is any chance that charges may be filed against you, announce with regret that you must resign citing the need to spend more time with your family.

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