Who’s calling the shots in Warren?

Councilman Christian Zavinski said during last week’s special City Council meeting that he found out the city’s playground program was canceled through a Times Observer breaking news alert.

We’re glad to have been of service, but one would think council members would have been notified of the decision before we posted the story on our website. Frankly we agree with Zavinski’s suggestion that the shuttering of the summer playground program should have gone through the city Parks and Recreation Commission and, by extension, the City Council.

Give Nancy Freenock, city administrator, credit for admitting that last week after Zavinski’s comments during the City Council meeting. Freenock apologized to Parks and Recreation Commimssion members for not bringing the playground program and pool closure discussion to the group.

Zavinski’s point brings up an interesting question. Does the buck stop with the city’s elected officials or the city’s administrator? Freenock’s apology to the Parks and Recreation Commission shows it stops with the council.

The Parks and Recreation Commission’s job is to develop and recommend park and recreation programs, review those programs and advise the City Council on recreation. If council members approved a budget with the summer playground program included in it, they or their advisory commission should be consulted that the program is being canceled.

We also couldn’t disagree more with the logic proffered by one council member that the council’s reinstatement of the summer playground program and opening of the city pool is a slippery slope, that council members are micromanaging the city manager and city administration, and overstepping its bounds. Rather than be cautious about the council micromanaging the city administration, the city administration should make sure the council is kept in the loop.

Warren residents are free to reach out to the city administration when they disagree with a decision, but people don’t vote for the city administrator. They vote for council members to be their pipeline to city government. And when the people speak, the City Council is supposed to listen and take action.

What good is the council if they are subservient to the city administrator on a matter that affects the council’s constituents?


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