On vacation while auditing votes were counted, I have been bemused by post-election comments. One side says Eugene avoided an autocratic, over-priced elected auditor promoted by a narrow neighborhood cabal; the other side says the people’s preference was defeated by a late insincere option aimed at vote-splitting, resulting in continued double-dealing by local government.
As someone who voted “no” on both, I am not one of those opposed to hiring an auditor (Letters, May 24). I found both proposals too flawed to warrant support, but hope an improved design, from an inclusive process, could garner a majority. I don’t pretend to know its full details, but even in our current weak council-strong manager governance structure I suspect most citizens agree the council is currently far too weak. Auditor support — similar to what Congress gets from the Congressional Budget Office and Government Accountability Office — could help strengthen the council. Yet making the auditor entirely subject to, or independent of, the council also seems unproductive. The auditor needs some control of his or her agenda, budget and personnel to be effective. But complete autonomy may frustrate shared responsibilities and shared powers among branches of government, and contribute to continuing toxic mutual suspicions.
Here’s hoping that Eugene citizens will see the late election not as an end, but rather the start of an extended but ultimately productive effort to make an auditor an effective part of Eugene government, and foster a shared spirit of cooperation and accountability to Eugene residents by all involved.