In order to understand how we come to the present state of affairs in Annapolis, we must go back to at least the Cohen administration, if not the Moyer administration.
In 2013, there were many voters in the City of Annapolis who were shocked when Michael Pantelides won the mayoral race on a campaign slogan of “Sweeping Annapolis Clean.” What did that mean? Was there corruption in the Cohen administration? Was that administration “dirty?” Not in any conventional sense. In fact, Josh Cohen was a fairly good mayor. He was careful and deliberate and generally reasonable and honest. Then where did he fail?
He failed to realize that the people of Annapolis were unhappy with the way they were being treated by the employees of the City of Annapolis. All bureaucracies, if not strictly monitored and restrained with vigilance, degenerate into what Max Weber tells us is the “iron cage of bureaucracy.” Public service turns to self service. Good manners turn to callousness. Citizens feel powerless and disconnected from the government. It is the failure to detect and restrain this behavior within the bureaucracy that led to Mayor Cohen’s defeat. Citizens were tired of a City government that was discourteous and unsympathetic.
The first goal of the next administration should be to restore public trust in the responsiveness and fairness of government. Not by random firings or a “housecleaning”, but by creating better feedback systems by which interactions between citizens and government are measured.
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