Last week a reader contacted this newspaper complaining about Grenada’s form of government. This is nothing new. It happens at least once a week.
Most Grenadians seem to feel that the “Weak Mayor - City Manager” government we operate under has not served our city well.
On paper, the city manager form appears to us to be the best way to govern a city, as it allows for an elected board of directors (city council) to hire a professional manager to operate the city. If the city council would stick to the structure, the city manager government would probably serve us well, but in order to perform successfully, the city council must stay out of the way -- providing only guidance -- not with hands on meddling in daily operations.
Grenada’s problem is that we have one form of government on paper and one form of government in practice.
On paper we have the Weak Mayor - City Manager form -- in practice we have a Strong Mayor
Most persons in the know are aware of the city council’s hierarchy.
Councilman Lewis Johnson tells the city manager, the council, and the mayor what to do. No one bucks him, because they are afraid that if they do, he will muster the four votes in the council to defeat anything needed for their district.
Johnson is the de facto mayor, since the rest of the council seems afraid to challenge him. We have -- in effect -- a strong mayor system, except that the mayor is elected only by one-seventh of the population. The other six wards have very little effective representation on the city council.
We think it is time for community leaders to consider making the office of mayor a city-wide decision by petitioning and voting to change Grenada’s form of government.
Such a move will have to originate in the black community, otherwise it will automatically be labeled racist by those who do not want to give up their power and influence.
When a few strong and respected black leaders decide it is time to make the change, there is little doubt many in the white community will join the effort.
One thing for sure -- the black and white folks we talk to are fed up with the present system.
If we are to progress, we must have better leadership -- leadership more interested in the overall welfare, progress and the financial health of the city and less interested in making expensive trips and building monuments to name after themselves.