Monday, December 11, 2006

Municipal Court

The latest mess to fall at the feet of the mayor and city council is a crisis at the Municipal Court, which the Kansas City Star recently described as a "madhouse." It appears as though we suddenly find ourselves in a perfect storm of problems in an institution that directly impacts the lives of so many Kansas Citians. The article revealed that we don't have enough judges and staff, and that this overstretched workforce is unable to keep schedules running smoothly, so folks experience maddening waits when conducting business with the court.

In a city that works, we wouldn't let problems such as these rise to the level of crisis. Effective governance means keeping tabs on how each area of the government is functioning, and making management adjustments BEFORE they reach crisis level. As auditor I endeavored to bring this level of oversight to City Hall, and, in many instances, the recommendations contained in the reports my staff and I produced were carried out and the city's services improved.

Unfortunately, the status quo at City Hall has been too often focused on day-to-day deal making and not on the big picture of managing a city that actually works for the folks who live here. That's how we wind up with sudden crises like this courthouse mess.

Fortunately, the solutiuon is simple: Effective, thoughtful management.

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