There must be a difference between politics and administration in local government |

There must be a difference between politics and administration in local government

Over the years I was employed by the city of South Lake Tahoe, I had the privilege to work with many fine city employees, far too many to mention in one letter. I found that most employees cared a lot about their community and wanted to be given the chance to do the best job possible for all residents of South Lake Tahoe.

They take their public employment seriously, and they just need the support and help from management and elected city officials. They are committed to the public service.

I find today many fine people on the city’s existing management team. Their job is to provide guidance and support to employees under their supervision, manage their budgets prudently, and provide the city manager and City Council with their best advice and counsel. City department leaders and city employees are not politicians.

They are trained and skilled in the professions and trades used by the city to serve the people. Their advice and counsel should be based on their experience and knowledge of the topics coming before city government.

While being sensitive to and aware of the political climate, their job is not to parrot the political whim of the day. Of course, they must show respect for the city’s elected leadership and activist members of the community. The job of department leaders is ultimately to follow the laws and the directions provided by the city’s elected leaders and implement policy in the fairest and most efficient and effective manner possible.

I know from experience that some community members (even at times City Council members) do not always like or agree with the advice given by city department leaders. Elected leadership has the ultimate responsibility to set policy and expect it to be followed. However, city department leaders and staff should not be expected to base their recommendations on political considerations. Their job is not political. It is professional. Their job is not to be politicians. Their job is to tell it as they see it. The worst thing a city can have is a politicized management team and/or City employees who become political tools of special interests whose only goal is to serve themselves, not the community at large.

Finally, city department leaders, employees and elected leaders must understand as well that in the final analysis, the community belongs to the people who will have the final judgment on whether they like or dislike the policies and actions of city government. This is the way is it supposed to be in a democratic society.

I wish the city’s elected and appointed leaders and all city employees success and good fortune. I want all of them to be successful. I want South Lake Tahoe to be successful as well in the best interests of the people who live here and the future generations of residents and young people.


David Jinkens

South Lake Tahoe, California

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