Special Reports

BACKTALK: End city manager system, callers say

The vast majority of the 42 people who responded to this week's BackTalk question said Tacoma should change its form of city government; others urged caution.

In the wake of Police Chief David Brame's suicide after he fatally shot Crystal Brame, his wife, some residents have proposed changing from a professional city manager to an elected mayor as the city's top administrator. They are angry with city officials, including the city manager, who were involved in David Brame's hiring and promotions.

This week's question was, have things gone so wrong at City Hall that it's time to consider changing the form of government?

Here is a sampling of responses:

Yes. Most definitely a strong mayor answering to its citizens is a better idea than a city manager-run government. But (Mayor) Bill Baarsma is not the answer. If Brian Ebersole was available again as mayor, that's who I'd endorse to run city government. ...


Yes. I believe it's time to replace the city manager form of government, with a strong mayor form that's accountable to the citizens. First remove the officials that did nothing to avert the Brame tragedy: (City Manager Ray) Corpuz, the city attorney, assistant (city) attorney, (former acting police chief) Catherine Woodard should all be removed.


No, let's not go back to the strong mayor form of government. ... Years ago we voted to go to a council-manager form because of inefficiency and corruption, because of a politically motivated mayor.


No, the reason being that it's the people in government that make the difference. The city manager is elected by five votes of the City Council and he can be removed by five votes of the City Council. ... A mayor that is elected by the people can only be removed at the end of his term ... or by recall (election). So if we want more control over government we have more control with the council-manager form of government where it only takes five votes of people who are paying attention to the job to remove the head of the administrative side of government.


How can you assume that a mayor would not make the same mistakes that a city manager might make? I would rather take my chances with a city manager managing this city than a smooth-talking politician. You can replace the city manager in a matter of months, where it could take years to get rid of an incompetent mayor.


We do not need another form of government, what we need is honest leadership.


No, it's not the time to consider a change in city government. To do so would be a classic example of believing the apparent problem, the form of government, caused the Brame tragedy. The real problem was the poor judgment on the part of the city manager, choosing Brame, considering his references, (and) then the (elected) City Council, which approved the Brame selection.


It's not the form of government so much as it is the quality of the individuals involved in the government at that time. I remember how things were before we got the city manager system. You think things are bad now, you ought to go back and look at the record and see how things were then. It pays for us to not get panicked and go into a big change at this stage.