by Inlander Staff Pittsburgh's Florida -- If you read The Inlander much, you've probably heard of Richard Florida -- we've written about his book, Rise of the Creative Class, at least three times in the past year or so. Florida is a professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, but his book has him speechifying from coast to coast. Next month, he'll bring his show to Spokane. Details are a bit sketchy at the moment, but Florida is expected to appear in downtown Spokane on Sept. 2.
Florida's theories posit that it is people, not businesses, that drive economic development, and in allowing them to be creative, cities will prosper. Stay tuned for more information.
Blame the Voters -- With all the strong mayor talk lately, we remembered how back in 1999, after the new system was passed into law but before it was established, we'd asked David Rusk, a renowned urban policy consultant to write about his experiences with the system and what we could expect. Rusk was the city manager of Albuquerque, N.M., in the 1970s and was elected mayor after that city switched to a strong mayor format.
We went back and reread his comments, and surprisingly enough he didn't champion one system over another. What he did do, however, was place the onus for a city government's success on its citizens and voters, not the system. Here's an excerpt from that 1999 commentary:
Since adopting the mayor-council system, Albuquerque voters have yet to re-elect a mayor. We've now had seven mayors (one served two discontinuous terms) and, as a result, eight chief administrative officers in 26 years. Though there is greater continuity at city council and staff levels, the voters' revolving-door policy has frustrated long-term reforms.
Why are Albuquerque voters so fickle? (In my judgment, only one of those mayors running for re-election truly deserved to be defeated.)
Well, about a year after I was defeated for a second term, a stranger stopped me on a downtown street.
"Aren't you Mayor Rusk?" he asked.
"Yes," I replied.
"I voted for you the first time, but I didn't vote for you the second time."
Wanting to be profound, I said sympathetically, "Oh?"
"I really thought you were a damn good mayor."
"Then why didn't you support my re-election?" I asked, puzzled.
"Oh, we just can't leave you guys in there too long."
Ultimately, it will fall to Spokane's voters to determine the success or failure of Spokane's new form of government.
For Rusk's full commentary, check our Web site this week.
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