What the Heck is Wrong with Edmond?

What is wrong with Edmond I am finding out is the same thing that is wrong with a lot of cities all across the US.  (more on this later)

See also-

Tonights Sustainability Meeting in Edmond is a Sham!

So what is wrong with Edmond?

What the people expect from their government and what they are getting are two different things.

Well, for one thing,  the city changed its form of government.

**I do need to make a correction-the change in the form of city government was not recent.  However, addition powers were added to the city manager in 2009 and I suspect a hard look at the progression of the cities government will show continuous broadening (in fact, I’m sure of it) of the scope of power held by the managers and not all of it the fault of the city.  The federal government is pouring money into these sustainability initiatives and the businesses that have cropped up to feed off of that money hang from our cities like so many fat ticks.**

I took the former mayors statement in 2009 to indicate that this was a recent change (2009)

“The City has adopted a charter and operates under a Council-Manager form of government pursuant to the charter and is recognized by the International City Management Association and the National League of Cities.”

That does not seem to be the case.

According the charter Article III-the City Manager was given only the additional power of hiring the city treasurer in 2009. (the Treasurer was formerly elected and now is appointed)

The charter now reads:

“The city manager shall hire a city treasurer with the advice and consent of the city council and the city treasurer shall work under the supervision of the city manager. (Added General Election, April 7, 2009)” Link

According to the City website, Edmond has had a Council-manager form of government since the charter was established;

“We operate under a Council-Manager form of government established by the 1925 Charter. The Mayor and Council are the policy-making and legislative body, and appoint the City Manager as well as the City Attorney and Municipal Judges. The City Manager provides centralized direction and leadership for the day-to-day administration of city services.” Link

Nevertheless, the same pitfalls of a weak mayor form of city government still apply.

Here is some excerpts from an interesting article on the issue;

A Short History of the Strong Mayor in California:

That [moving away from a mayor-council form of governing] was a mistake,” said Adrian S. Kwiatkowski
, president of the San Diego-based Strong Mayor-Council Institute
, a consulting firm. “Ethics rules would have been a better fix.”

The organizational chart of a council-manager run city more closely resembles a corporation with a board and a hired CEO than the institutions established by the founding fathers, said Robert Huckfeldt, political science professor at UC Davis.

“The reformers wanted to take politics out of government, but the irony is that the framers of the constitution believed that everyone acts in their own interests they established a system of checks and balances,” Huckfeldt explained.

“It is a fallacy that the city manager is not a political position. They may be professionally trained,” Kwiatkowski said. “But they still serve at the whim of a political body.”

Huckfeldt said the benefit of the mayor-council system for citizens is accountability.

“When there are so many chefs in the kitchen, who do you blame when the soup comes out wrong?”

In the strong-mayor form of government, the top elected official can’t point the finger at his colleagues on the council.

The whole article is worth a read-


Since the 1990’s;

“The council-manager form has been replaced with the mayor-council form in nine cities with populations over 100,000:[i] Fresno, California; Hartford, Connecticut; Miami, Florida; Oakland, California; Richmond, Virginia; St. Petersburg, Florida; San Diego, California; Spokane, Washington; and Toledo, Ohio. The council-manager form replaced the mayor-council form in El Paso, Texas, and Topeka, Kansas, and the commission form in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.” LINK

There are 3 forms of municipal government described in brief here

History of the council–manager government in the United States

The concept of the council–manager form of government was a product of a confluence of the prevailing modes of thought during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  Probably the foremost influence was the Progressive Movement;

Another influence was the “Scientific Management” movement, often associated with Frederick Winslow Taylor.


A System of scientific management advocated by Fred W. Taylor. In Taylor’s view, the task of factory management was to determine the best way for the worker to do the job, to provide the proper tools and training, and to provide incentives for good performance.

Taylor had very precise ideas about how to introduce his system:

It is only through enforced standardization of methods, enforced adoption of the best implements and working conditions, and enforced cooperation that this faster work can be assured. And the duty of enforcing the adoption of standards and enforcing this cooperation rests with management alone.


The first duty of government is to promote justice- NOT efficiency!
The necessary deregulation that a managerial type of government requires leads to injustice for the citizens.

H. George Frederickson of the University of Kansas writes in

Public Ethics and the New Managerialism
Consider some of the primary characteristics of the new
public management:
• First, sharply reduce governmental regulations and red tape;
• Then mix this with privatizing and contracting-out many public
functions thought heretofore to be primarily governmental;
• Now reduce significantly the directly employed governmental
• Do not train a cadre of government employees to be competent
contract managers;
• Now mix all of this with the widespread application of market
logic and particularly the idea of institutional competition;
• Finally, stir for a decade in a hot political and social

I wondered, why do we have Planning Commissions?  The handbook I found for Oklahoma made me wonder what is going on.

The 2007 Oklahoma Planning Commissioners
Handbook Commission states:

“The idea of the planning commission originated in the Standard Planning and Zoning Enabling Acts developed under Herbert Hoover in the 1920’s. These model ordinances were drafted in order to standardize land use planning procedures across the US.”

Read more

So, the Council-Manager form of government looks at city government as an enterprise.  This would explain why Edmond has several key leader that rather than being long standing community members they are imported from other states where they have also been city managers or similar.  The Council-Manager type of government view is that these people should be professionals above actual community members.

Here are a few of the professionals;

Larry Stevens- City Manager (that means he is the “CEO” of Edmond under the Manager-Council form of city government)

“I have been the City Manager for the City of Edmond, OK since March 2002. Prior to coming to Edmond, I was city manager in Pittsburg, KS and Brookfield, MO. I was also the Community Services Director for the City of Nevada, MO. http://www.juntosociety.com/government/ls_citymanager.ht

-Ross A. VanderHamm Finance Director

Previous Positions

•City Manager, Paola, KS, 2005-2007

•Deputy City Manager/Finance Director/City Clerk, Hutchison, KS, 1995-2005

•City Manager, St. Mary’s, KS, 1988-1995

Professional Organizations

  • Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA)
  • International City/County Managers Association (ICMA)


-Steve Commons Assistant City Manager of Administration

ICMA 25 Years of Service Award, 2004

Previous Positions

•City Manager, Emporia, Kansas, 1986-2006

Nicole Hufford, Assistant to the City Manager, City of Edmond

All of these people are imports and all members of an organization called the ICMA-

What is the ICMA? International City/County Management Association

ICMA’s mission is to create excellence in local governance by fostering professional management worldwide.

Learn more about ICMA

Here is some interesting news.

The Department of Energy gives ICLEI and ICMA millions in 2010

ICLEI partners with United States Department of Energy

May 07, 2010

Department of Energy Announces up to $10 Million for Solar Energy Education for Local Governments

April 16, 2010

It looks like to me we should all be looking at our city’s charters first.

Then, if you want to know who is promoting Sustainability, take a look at your federal government-

Consolidated Appropriations Act 2010

(Hat Tip to Amanda Teegarden for finding this information!)

Page 51 excerpt reads:

Of the amounts made available under this heading, $150,000,000 shall be made available for a Sustainable Communities Initiative to improve regional planning efforts that integrate housing and transportation decisions, and increase the capacity to improve land use and zoning: Provided, That $100,000,000 shall be for Regional Integrated Planning Grants to support the linking of transportation and land use planning: Provided further, That not less than $25,000,000 of the funding made available for Regional Integrated Planning Grants shall be awarded to metropolitan areas of less than 500,000: Provided further, That $40,000,000 shall be for Community Challenge Planning Grants to foster reform and reduce barriers to achieve affordable, economically vital, and sustainable communities: Provided further, That before funding is made available for Regional Integrated Planning Grants or Community Challenge Planning Grants, the Secretary, in coordination with the Secretary of Transportation, shall submit a plan to the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations, the Senate Committee on Banking and Urban Affairs, and the House Committee on Financial Services establishing grant criteria as well as performance measures by which the success of grantees will be measured: Provided further, That the Secretary will consult with the Secretary of Transportation in evaluating grant proposals: Provided further, That up to $10,000,000 shall be for a joint Department of Housing and Urban Development and Department of Transportation research effort that shall include a rigorous evaluation of the Regional Integrated Planning Grants and Community Challenge Planning Grants programs: Provided further, That of the amounts made available under this heading, $25,000,000 shall be made available for the Rural Innovation Fund for grants to Indian tribes, State housing finance agencies, State community and/or economic development agencies, local rural nonprofits and community development corporations to address the problems of concentratedrural housing distress and community poverty: Provided further, That of the funding made available under the previous proviso, at least $5,000,000 shall be made available to promote economic development and entrepreneurship for federally recognized Indian Tribes, through activities including the capitalization of revolving loan programs and business planning and development, funding is also made available for technical assistance to increase capacitythrough training and outreach activities: Provided further, That of the amounts made available under this heading, $25,000,000 is for grants pursuant to section 107 of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974 (42 U.S.C. 5307).


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