Letters to the editor for June 5, 2013

Union Democrat staff

To TUD: Brush up on human relations

To the Editor:

Having just read Chris Caskey's May 28 account of the donnybrook at a May 21 TUD committee meeting I'd suggest that our new TUD directors, particularly Kent Johnson, read an excellent article about the relationship between elected officials and agency staff. The article appeared in a Santa Clara University website and can be found at http://www.scu.edu/ethics/practicing/focusareas/government_ethics/introduction/staff-relations.html.

Among the points that seem relevant to the new TUD board are the following:

1. Some elected officials feel a special responsibility to the constituents who elected them. By contrast, staff are obligated to serve the interests of the agency's customers as a whole.

2. Many newly elected officials have an imperfect understanding of the division of labor between them and staff; they may improperly think that staff work for them as individuals.

3. Elected officials need to show respect for the expertise of staff and avoid undercutting their efforts by ignoring the evidence-based conclusions that staff recommends.

The voters didn't elect the new TUD board members expecting them to bully the staff at TUD. Nor did the voters necessarily send a mandate that TUD must cut costs by 15 percent across the board. At a time when most water agencies throughout the state are raising water rates in moderation to meet the challenges of new rules and regulations and chronic water shortages, for TUD to be slashing costs indiscriminately may end up meeting the definition of the old adage: penny-wise and pound-foolish.

Jerry Cadagan


The Union Democrat
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