Communication problems in Lynn city government

February 10, 2010
By

The first confrontation between Mayor Judith Flanagan-Kennedy and Council President Tim Phelan has taken place.

It is over a meaningless piece of land being used as a tow lot and junkyard the council wants to sell.

The mayor doesn’t believe it should be sold.

But that isn’t the story.

The story is about the council president being out of the loop with the mayor.

In power circles here in the recent past, the city council president worked hand in hand with the mayor to make government work seamlessly.

This kind of pax Americana (a peace across the seas) – where the mayor consults the council president before moving forward on something important to the council president, has not happened in years.

Chip Clancy always made sure his council president was informed about the mind set of the mayor’s office – and even though he might do as he pleases, he would tend to consult with his city council president so there were no surprises.

Mayors hate surprises. City Council presidents hate surprises.

Former council president James Cowdell never had a disagreement with former Mayor Clancy.

And once they worked out the questions about how to get along, Council President Phelan and former Mayor Clancy got along famously.

Why?

Because there were no surprises.

Surprises are embarrassing. For the most part surprises show a lack of communication or preparation more than anything else.

Mayor Flanagan Kennedy has not yet drawn into her orbit the council president.

So Phelan is left standing outside the real mover of all things government in this city – the mayor’s office.

To what end?

I am not sure.

It is too early to tell.

Each mayor has his or her own style.

Mayors do their business the way they want. After all, who is going to tell the mayor what to do?

I am.

Mayor Flanagan Kennedy needs to clear the air immediately with the council president.

She will get much more accomplished with his blessing than without it. Also, having the council president working for you makes for less work for the mayor.

She will find her job far easier communicating with Tim Phelan than arguing semantics with him.

The to do between Flanagan-Kennedy and Phelan isn’t about the best possible price for a piece of relatively useless land in an area about to be developed by the city off the Lynnway.

Rather, it is about perfecting communication skills and showing respect to colleagues in government by sharing information with them and by staying in touch with them.

To do otherwise is to place in jeopardy an open playing field,

We urge the mayor to take the city council president’s phone calls and to work together as much as possible.

It makes good common sense and political sense, too.

That’s the way it used to be.

Of all things that should be carried over from the past administration as a modus operandi, this is the one.

Communication with other power brokers in city hall is a must for the mayor.

Without communication there are columns such as these – and these will get the mayor nowhere.

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