COMPTROLLER: Elected vs. Appointed?
June 7th 2012 · 2 Comments
Councilman Joe Marino has proposed legislation that would allow the people to vote on a referendum to make the elected Comptroller position into an appointed Treasurer. It’s an interesting argument on both sides.
With all due respect to the current and previous comptrollers, there’s no doubt that they’ve lacked the technical requirements that one would need to be a comptroller of a private corporation. I don’t believe either of the past two have had as much as a college degree.
Much of the reform movement over the years has focused on taking the “politics” out of government and those people believe this may bring more accountability and professionalism to government.
Taking the public’s right to elect their representative away is always a tough call. In our Republic, created by our founding fathers, they made a very deliberate decision to insure that we had checks and balances. The Comptroller’s position acts as a check between the council and mayor. Currently, the mayor has near complete control on fiscal policy. He controls the Board of E&A and his party (Democrat) has a super-majority on the Common Council. Mr. Cerminaro is the only Republican in a Democratic dominated City Hall.
Whether you agree or disagree with Cerminaro’s stance on fighting the GroWest scandal and refusing to pay for a report, you have to ask whether he would have had the independence to take that stance if he was appointed and not independently elected. Furthermore, it would still be a political position by the very nature of the council making the appointment.
As for qualifications, this is where the Budget Director, Deputy Comptroller and accountants in the office come in. They are qualified and the elected Comptroller is theoretically supposed to act as the representative of the people.
Finally, how likely is it to find someone with these qualifications that will be willing to leave private practice for a position that pays less than $60,000 per year and has no job security due to being at the will of a political body?
Marino is to be commended for thinking outside the box and coming up with fresh new ideas. This proposal deserves an honest discussion, but also deserves to be fully vetted before taking any action. There are pros and cons. The question will be which outweigh the other?