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Flow chart doesn't line up with council

O'Neill (click for larger version)

Jordan (click for larger version)

Draper (click for larger version)

Kupsik (click for larger version)
January 28, 2014 | 02:00 PM
“Because I don’t know my lines, I don’t know what I’m doing.”

— Christopher Walken

A city organizational chart was rejected by the Lake Geneva City Council on Monday because the city council members were unsure about its lines.

The chart is now back in the hands of the personnel committee to determine what solid lines and dashed lines mean.

On the agenda, it appeared to be a simple thing. Item 14 B reads: “Discussion/action on changes to organizational chart.” Among changes approved by the city council this year were creation of a full-time parking supervisor, putting the cemetery workers under the public works department and changing the title of cemetery manager to sexton. The new full-time deputy clerk-treasurer position is also slated to begin this spring. Later in the meeting, the council also decided to advertise for an assistant public works director, also a new position. Those changes requires the city to reconfigure its organization chart, Mayor Jim Connors explained.

At first glance, the organizational chart looks like a bunch of rectangular boxes connected by a bunch of lines.

But what kind of lines?

Former alderman Terry O’Neill kicked things off during public comment, pointing out that solid lines connected the city council to every city department, with a few exceptions.

It made sense for the council to be connected to the police and fire commission, the utility commission, the municipal court, the city attorney’s office and the library with dashed lines, O’Neill said, because they are run by other elected officials, or are governed by semi-autonomous boards and commissions.

The line connecting the city council and the city administrator is also a dashed line.

The city administrator should be under the direct command of the city council, O’Neill charged.

What the dashed line represented was nothing more than the city council abrogating its responsibilities to a bureaucracy that’s not responsive to the people, he accused.

City Attorney Dan Draper said O’Neill’s complaint was a case of too much reading between the lines.

“There’s no legend here to say what a dotted line means,” Draper said, referring to the chart.

Draper said the relationship between the city council and city administrator is laid out in city ordinances.

Reading from section 2-148, Draper made it clear that city ordinances require the city administrator to answer to the city council.

City Administrator Dennis Jordan said he didn’t like the implications made by O’Neill.

“Everything that’s done is voted on by the city council,” Jordan said. “I’m tired of hearing that we’re doing things on our own.

“What we’ve done, you’ve directed us to do,” Jordan said, referring to himself and the rest of staff.

The city council members were still fixated by the lines.

Alderman Dennis Lyon said that in the corporate world, solid and dashed lines on organizational charts do have meaning. Dashed lines between organizations might mean shared responsibilities or that one influences the other.

“But you’re connected to your boss by a solid line,” Lyon said.

Alderwoman Sarah Hill said the chart is “an important visual to me.”

While the ordinances control the relationships between the council and department heads, “it doesn’t mean the chart shouldn’t be accurate,” she said.

“It’s obvious the organizational chart doesn’t match our ordinance,” said Alderman Alan Kupsik. “It’s better to send it back (to the personnel committee) to have it drawn correctly.”

Kupsik chairs the personnel committee.

Jordan’s solution was simpler.

“Just draw a solid line,” he said.

The organizational chart failed to pass muster on a 3-4 vote, with council members Hill, Bill Mott, Jeff Wall and Ellyn Kehoe voting against. Kupsik, Lyon and Hougan voted for it.

Alderman Sturg Taggart was absent.


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