The Doctor is out. During his weeklong sabbatical, we present you with a subliminally relevant deep cut from June 26, 2013. Rob Ford R.I.P.
Portland has a “weak mayor” system of governance where the mayor shares power with four commissioners. It took me a little while to wrap my head around that. Are there any other major cities that use the same system? —Rudy G.
The only other major North American city I could find that uses the weak-mayor system (where the mayor has little more legislative pull than any other member of the city council) is Toronto.
As it happens, Toronto has been in the news lately, as its mayor, Rob Ford, has been under fire for allegedly smoking crack. And when I say “smoking crack,” I don’t mean “smoking crack” the way somebody who thinks the Cubs are going to win the World Series* is “smoking crack.” I mean the “smoking crack” where you have some crack and you’re like, “Yay! Crack!” and then you smoke it.
You might think this would spell trouble for Toronto, but a recent Reuters story, “‘Weak mayor’ system keeps Toronto ticking through crack controversy,” suggests the city has managed to keep chugging along.
Since the mayor in a weak-mayor system is sort of a first among equals, with one vote on the city council like everyone else and no special veto power, the city’s business can keep rolling even if its chief executive is distracted, absent or, um, otherwise occupied.
In strong-mayor systems, by contrast, the mayor hires and fires, writes the budget and bans large fountain drinks** more or less at will. If one of these mayors runs amok, the city will feel the burn.
Thus, whatever you might think of the weak-mayor system, it does seem to be a good one to have if your mayor is going to smoke crack.
I’m not saying that Portland Mayor Charlie Hales*** would ever do that, but still, it’s good to know.
Footnotes from Dr. Know in Minor Family Emergency Land:
*Hey, it was 2013. Today we would say, “…Timberwolves are going to win the NBA Championship.” Then we’d probably have to acknowledge the psychic abilities conferred by crack.
**Mike Bloomberg, we hardly knew ye (or wanted to).
***Now, of course, it’s Mayor Ted Wheeler, and (psychic abilities aside) I’m not saying he should try it. But if he wants to, I know a guy.
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