After reading city manager Jinks justification of the process whereby city agencies planned and executed the alteration of Seminary Road, I was again reminded that we need a new city manager. For whatever reason, he’s become too imperious and defensive to serve in that capacity any longer.
It was easy to dismiss his long article published in this newspaper last week defending his administration’s handling of the costly Seminary Road alterations. He spent a half a page with not a hint that there may have been missteps. Instead, it was a wordy defense of the way this costly project was managed. What I took away from it is that he’s tone deaf.
He is comporting himself as a Dear Leader who tells us what we need and then spends our money to gold-plate it. He is not responding to what we want. He has forgotten that he’s the public servant; we’re the public he serves. He does what we want him to do; not the other way ‘round. You might wonder why he’s doesn’t seem to grasp the notion.
It could be that he doesn’t have to heed the public. Having experienced no consequence -- even a mild rebuke from his enabler Mayor Justin Wilson -- after having been caught misleading citizens about the Potomac Yard Metro Station (inexplicably proclaiming there’s a south entrance when he knew it had been omitted), he is omnipotent. Not.
Hopefully, the next city manager will ensure city employees are responding to a public need before seeking council approval to spend our money. Maybe they might deign to return phone calls from concerned citizens. Or not be frightened to tell the truth (e.g., Karig matter). Or force citizens to seek legal redress (e.g., Justice Black house). Or stop placing developers’ needs above ours (e. g., spending years and millions of our tax dollars to obtain Federal approval to destroy a wetland with a metro station to allow the optimal site -- a nearby dryland -- to be developed)
Replacing Jinks and his deputy, and establishing a Ward form of government would greatly enable the ability of our public servants to stop surprising us with what they are doing with our money and, instead, first learn what we want.