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Directly Elected Mayor

  • 08-05-2019 12:58pm
    #1
    Closed Accounts Posts: 159 ✭✭ IspeakcozIcan


    Just listened to yesterday's Inside Politics (Irish Times) podcast and there was a good discussion about the directly elected mayor vote. I'm going to catch up with PrimeTime's segment on it from last night when I get home too. Up until now, I haven't heard much about it though.

    I would lean towards a Yes vote. I think strong local government is essential and Ireland is behind most European countries on this. Would hate to see Waterford lose out on this opportunity if it passes in Limerick and Cork.

    What is the vibe in Waterford on this - is there much interest?

    Sorry if there was already a thread on this - I couldn't see a recent one.


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Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 26,191 ✭✭✭✭ Wanderer78


    im veering towards yes myself on this one, i think a slight decentralisation of our political system is worth trying


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,011 ✭✭✭ Gardner


    yes for me also


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,734 ✭✭✭ BBM77


    Decentralisation is all well and good but how about decentralising funds to pay for it. I read the info leaflet the other day. It says that a directly elected mayor would be more expensive. Where is the money going to come from? Is the government going to pay for it or is it going to come out of the council’s income meaning there will be less money to spend on useful things? Also, the leaflet said that the decision making process would be more complicated.

    Also, why does the government not solve an actual problem Waterford has for once? For example, lack of university, underfunded WRH, terrible IDA performance, bad road access to the west of the country, etc, etc. A directly elected mayor is way down the list of priorities for Waterford. And is frankly a non-issue.


  • Registered Users Posts: 498 ✭✭ Teebor15


    I'm leaning towards a yes also. I think a properly paid Mayoral position will hopefully attract some decent candidates and hopefully give us some pull that we are lacking at political level at the moment.

    If Cork & Limerick vote yes and we vote no I can see being left further behind than we already are.

    Regarding where will the Salary come from

    https://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/extra-money-for-higher-mayoral-salaries-to-come-from-10m-fund-1.3882572

    Its buttons in the grand scheme of things and hopefully the pay back will be mulitiples of the salary if we get an influential person.


  • Registered Users Posts: 53 ✭✭ mojor


    I'd be leaning towards Yes but who would be the best choice for this position? Local Politician, Business person, Celebrity/Ex Sports star......?

    The package on offer is quite juicy according to Primetime last night. 5 years in the job on junior ministerial salary (120k+ p/a) , pension, 2 members of staff (60k+ p/a each) and driver (35k p/a)
    That's to be funded in part by central government but primarily that money must come from local council budgets. The mayor will have no additional powers to what the current council and city manager have.
    Even in the face of this I think it's worth a shot. Only time will tell if he/she is worth the money.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,734 ✭✭✭ BBM77


    Teebor15 wrote: »
    I'm leaning towards a yes also. I think a properly paid Mayoral position will hopefully attract some decent candidates and hopefully give us some pull that we are lacking at political level at the moment.

    If Cork & Limerick vote yes and we vote no I can see being left further behind than we already are.

    Regarding where will the Salary come from

    https://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/extra-money-for-higher-mayoral-salaries-to-come-from-10m-fund-1.3882572

    Its buttons in the grand scheme of things and hopefully the pay back will be mulitiples of the salary if we get an influential person.

    A directly elected mayor would not have that kind of influence. Don’t see how you think we are going to get more government money with a directly elected mayor. Sounds like pie in the sky stuff to me.


  • Registered Users Posts: 38 cactus jacks


    I'm voting yes. I can't see Limerick or Cork voting no so why disadvantage ourselves even more then we already are, plus Galway will be the next to vote on this and if Limerick and Cork vote yes then I can't see them voting no. If that happens and we vote no we'll be the only city in the country without a directly elected mayor, which will give the other cities another advantage over us. We're always complaining about not having a seat at the top table and that we have weak political representation, a directly elected mayor might help us to bridge that gap.


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,012 ✭✭✭ fricatus


    I think it's the right thing to do and I will be voting Yes. It will be a more high-profile "Ms/Mr Waterford" position, with continuity and hopefully a bit of profile to agitate on behalf of the city.

    In other countries, city mayors often end up in prominent government positions, so it's seen as a stepping stone to bigger things. I think this is a good thing, because it could mean that capable, ambitious people take on the role and work hard in it. Yes, they'll be working on their CV, but it will mean that issues specific to Waterford get aired.

    Way better than the current dog's dinner where we have a county mayor and a metropolitan district mayor. Which one visits the school to hand out certificates, or serves Christmas dinner to the homeless?

    Yes, the cost is a consideration, but we're about to spend €3 bn on free broadband for everyone, so we shouldn't get too hung up on a few grand for a mayor.

    The absolute worst outcome would be directly elected mayors for Cork and Limerick and none for Waterford. That would be shooting ourselves in the foot, but it's a good argument too for getting a Yes vote, that fear that we aren't getting what other cities get (like a university, 24/7 cardiac service, etc.)


  • Registered Users Posts: 373 ✭✭ invara


    I plan to vote yes..... this is my tuppence of analysis

    + we need to stay in touch with Cork and Limerick. If they vote against, my guess is that it will never happen (despite promises), so we are probably just voting to be like the other cities.
    + elected mayors try to do big things (a bit like Michael Walsh does, but previous managers did not), and so we should have eye-catching initiatives. These will be high risk, good and bad projects (so think of the ridiculous London cable car, but then the Boris bikes etc...).
    + The current political structure is very unfavourable to Waterford (3 senior ministers in the history of the state), KK and WX pulling against WD and each other, rather than pulling together like Cork (really 3 counties) to get university, health, retail, and cultural/social services).
    + Along with the M9 and N25 road improvements this will fix the regional hierarchy problem.

    - it is an American style politics, so personality led and every now and then you get someone insufferable
    - this is brought to us by the folks who ignored our boundary commission redraw and so trust is low in its execution- we have not seen the act, enough details on the powers- so it is like the brexit referendum we cannot fully see what we are voting for.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 40,086 ✭✭✭✭ Harry Palmr


    I see no merit in merely rebranding an existing position by splitting off some of the powers of the chief executive officer while not having any stated budget other than for staffing.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 90 ✭✭✭ MoashoaM


    Go on then, if it helps us keep up with the Joneses.


  • Registered Users Posts: 26,191 ✭✭✭✭ Wanderer78


    MoashoaM wrote: »
    Go on then, if it helps us keep up with the Joneses.

    i do everything i can do, to do so


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,325 ✭✭✭ MartyMcFly84


    while I like the idea in general it needs to be done properly. The new directly elected mayors will have be taking a few jobs from the Chief Ex and a few from the council. They will be the main drivers for policy.

    However they won't have any real substantial powers that would merit the extra costs involved. The budget for a private driver is completely unnecessary, and the substantial assistant salaries would only be justified if this was a senior government position with real power and influence.

    I am torn between this being a step in the right direction and unnecessary extra expenses with no real justification.


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,012 ✭✭✭ fricatus


    I think when you have mayors in those positions, they will want more power for their position and their council - so they will be real drivers for the devolution of powers closer to the voters and away from the over-centralised government we have.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 159 ✭✭ IspeakcozIcan


    The more I read about this, the more I am in favour. Really hope this gets voted through.


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,012 ✭✭✭ fricatus


    BBM77 wrote: »
    Also, why does the government not solve an actual problem Waterford has for once? For example, lack of university, underfunded WRH, terrible IDA performance, bad road access to the west of the country, etc, etc. A directly elected mayor is way down the list of priorities for Waterford. And is frankly a non-issue.

    The government probably thinks about Waterford only on a very sporadic basis, when something happens, like the mortuary problem. There is a total absence of thought about our strategic needs as a city and region. I think the directly elected mayor would be a good conduit for the issues affecting us to be relayed to Dublin, and would be able to bring some focus and local knowledge to the subject.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,511 ✭✭✭ Max Powers


    I see no merit in merely rebranding an existing position by splitting off some of the powers of the chief executive officer while not having any stated budget other than for staffing.

    Have to agree Harry, I brought this up earlier, I'm leaning towards no, open to change though. A lot for this it would seem, on here anyway.totally agree somebody said we are bit in dark on it, brexit style. I think a lot of the reasons put forward in previous posts are a bit fantastical, this new mayor is not going to have the money, power, celebrity or whatever to make big changes.
    I completely fail to see how this will be of benefit Waterford, just because Cork do it is no reason really, I get the sentiment but it could be a mess.
    I really don't see this adding extra weight or profile to any mayor is what we need here,we will still have same problems with mayor or not.
    Transferring SOME power from somebody like m.walsh to some one else, councillor probably will not work IMO, sure we could get a celebrity candidate but know little about how system works and issues. Even worse, we get some populist dope who promises better everything but usual no tax increases, see homer Simpson sanitation episode. There also the possibility of populist racist running, don't think people would not fall for it.
    A bit concerned about funding it, briefly heard something today but haven't read anything so presuming this is temporary money and we will end up paying out of our normal budget.

    In conclusion, I do NOT see how this will add any political weight to our arguments, I don't see how a bit of higher profile for a mayor will mean any govt is gonna pay special attention, could be a hindrance if govt is politically minded to not help him/her.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,734 ✭✭✭ BBM77


    fricatus wrote: »
    The government probably thinks about Waterford only on a very sporadic basis, when something happens, like the mortuary problem. There is a total absence of thought about our strategic needs as a city and region. I think the directly elected mayor would be a good conduit for the issues affecting us to be relayed to Dublin, and would be able to bring some focus and local knowledge to the subject.

    I really don’t see how you think this will be the case. It is clear from the information provided that a directly elected mayor would have no more influence at national government level than the current council CEO. As has been said in another post it is just rebranding, there is no new power or influence. Let’s face it, if a directly elected mayor would give Waterford more influence this government would not giving us the option.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,511 ✭✭✭ Max Powers


    BBM77 wrote: »
    I really don’t see how you think this will be the case. It is clear from the information provided that a directly elected mayor would have no more influence at national government level than the current council CEO. As has been said in another post it is just rebranding, there is no new power or influence. Let’s face it, if a directly elected mayor would give Waterford more influence this government would not giving us the option.

    That's a good summary of where I am. Very Quick search there, some fairly negative bits in the news from cork and limerick local media too.


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,012 ✭✭✭ fricatus


    BBM77 wrote: »
    I really don’t see how you think this will be the case. It is clear from the information provided that a directly elected mayor would have no more influence at national government level than the current council CEO. As has been said in another post it is just rebranding, there is no new power or influence.

    The position will probably attract candidates of a different calibre from the usual local representatives, who currently rotate the position among themselves according to a pact agreed when they’re elected.

    The individual will also have a mandate - perhaps unofficially, but nonetheless implied - to represent the city’s interests and lobby to have these fulfilled wherever possible. They will be focussed on either being re-elected as mayor (thus needing to deliver for Waterford) or on building contacts at national level for an Oireachtas or European career (in which case we’ll have someone in our corner at high levels).

    You’re right, there won’t be any new power or influence immediately, but that can grow, especially if we choose the right candidate, and other cities do the same.

    BBM77 wrote: »
    Let’s face it, if a directly elected mayor would give Waterford more influence this government would not giving us the option.

    Sure, we’ve been burned by government time and time again, but what do we gain by being cynical? If we don’t give this a shot, then the government can quite rightly say that we didn’t take the opportunities we were given to change things.


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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 40,086 ✭✭✭✭ Harry Palmr


    Being utterly cynical and political the whole project whiffs of setting cities in competition with one another for feck all in return as Dublin continues to dominate the rest of us. All three locations should vote this down and force a rethink. A mayor with a budget, the ability to raise money, change charges and levies, strike deals with providers of services and so on.

    They'd never allow that of course!


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 159 ✭✭ IspeakcozIcan


    Max Powers wrote: »
    Transferring SOME power from somebody like m.walsh to some one else, councillor probably will not work IMO, sure we could get a celebrity candidate but know little about how system works and issues. Even worse, we get some populist dope who promises better everything but usual no tax increases, see homer Simpson sanitation episode. There also the possibility of populist racist running, don't think people would not fall for it.
    A bit concerned about funding it, briefly heard something today but haven't read anything so presuming this is temporary money and we will end up paying out of our normal budget.

    A populist dope could run in any election and often do; this is a risk with democracy, so it's not special or particularly concerning in this instance.

    We are lucky with Michael Walsh not all Chief Execs are so competent. At least with a Mayor, they can be voted out if they mess up. I see more balance of power between a directly elected mayor and the Chief Exec as a positive thing.

    Funding - In the scheme of things, it's very little as previously stated.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 159 ✭✭ IspeakcozIcan


    Max Powers wrote: »
    That's a good summary of where I am. Very Quick search there, some fairly negative bits in the news from cork and limerick local media too.

    Dr Aodh Quinlivan is the leading expert in local government in the country and he is advocating for a Yes vote for this: https://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/directly-elected-mayors-could-be-catalyst-for-local-government-reform-1.3878785

    I like his point about directly elected mayors being vocal champions for their areas. Michael Walsh works away in the background, but cannot be a vocal champion. A Mayor could speak publicly about the major issues facing Waterford in the media and raise awareness nationally (particular if they are well known in the country - the wage could attract someone with big profile).


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,734 ✭✭✭ BBM77


    fricatus wrote: »
    The position will probably attract candidates of a different calibre from the usual local representatives, who currently rotate the position among themselves according to a pact agreed when they’re elected.

    The individual will also have a mandate - perhaps unofficially, but nonetheless implied - to represent the city’s interests and lobby to have these fulfilled wherever possible. They will be focussed on either being re-elected as mayor (thus needing to deliver for Waterford) or on building contacts at national level for an Oireachtas or European career (in which case we’ll have someone in our corner at high levels).

    You’re right, there won’t be any new power or influence immediately, but that can grow, especially if we choose the right candidate, and other cities do the same.




    Sure, we’ve been burned by government time and time again, but what do we gain by being cynical? If we don’t give this a shot, then the government can quite rightly say that we didn’t take the opportunities we were given to change things.

    Hope I’m not been cynical, if I am, I don’t mean to be! It is just that I read the details of what is being voted on and I cannot see what you and others seem to believe this position is going to do. It seems like people grabbing at this straw hoping Waterford will finally start to get its fair share from government.

    Also, this directly elected mayor would be the mayor of Waterford city and county. You could end up with someone like Deasy from west Waterford who could not care less about the city.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,734 ✭✭✭ BBM77


    A populist dope could run in any election and often do; this is a risk with democracy, so it's not special or particularly concerning in this instance.

    We are lucky with Michael Walsh not all Chief Execs are so competent. At least with a Mayor, they can be voted out if they mess up. I see more balance of power between a directly elected mayor and the Chief Exec as a positive thing.

    Funding - In the scheme of things, it's very little as previously stated.

    In terms of government funding this is true. But where does it say this will be funded by the government? At local government level this would be stretching an already stretched budget.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 159 ✭✭ IspeakcozIcan


    BBM77 wrote: »
    Hope I’m not been cynical, if I am, I don’t mean to be! It is just that I read the details of what is being voted on and I cannot see what you and others seem to believe this position is going to do. It seems like people grabbing at this straw hoping Waterford will finally start to get its fair share from government.

    Also, this directly elected mayor would be the mayor of Waterford city and county. You could end up with someone like Deasy from west Waterford who could not care less about the city.

    Well the county councillors are all worried the opposite will happen:
    Waterford councillors opposed to directly elected mayor


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 40,086 ✭✭✭✭ Harry Palmr


    County mayor? Let me find my Stetson hat! Should only be for cities, counties just dilute what influence the job may have. Also can you imagine some popular hick winning and being mainly interested in roads and drink driving laws.?


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,734 ✭✭✭ BBM77


    County mayor? Let me find my Stetson hat! Should only be for cities, counties just dilute what influence the job may have. Also can you imagine some popular hick winning and being mainly interested in roads and drink driving laws.?

    Exactly!


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,018 ✭✭✭ hardybuck


    First of all, there is a real lack of clarity on what people are being asked to vote on here, but if this was to pass there would need to be a real transfer of power from the Council to the Mayor.

    A certain type of person puts themselves forward for a life in politics. Looking at the current councillors, I don't really think I'd be comfortable with any any of them in the role.

    If Mayors were elected, we could only ever draw from a pool of local candidates willing to put themselves forward as candidates. If CEOs continue to be employed rather than elected, they can be sourced from anywhere to ensure the best possible candidate is secured.

    CEOs in council's are often heavily experienced and aren't politicans (or teachers!). If this went ahead the likes of Waterford would have totally different structures to their neighbours, which would come with long term risks

    I've yet to see a compelling reason to vote for this, particularly given the uncertainty over the role profile.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 5,012 ✭✭✭ fricatus


    BBM77 wrote: »
    Also, this directly elected mayor would be the mayor of Waterford city and county. You could end up with someone like Deasy from west Waterford who could not care less about the city.

    Hopefully the fact that 70% of the county's population lives east of Portlaw would have a major bearing on who gets elected. In a four-seat constituency, we can end up voting for someone like Deasy, who doesn't care about the city, because he only needs a quarter of the vote, and he can get it in his heartland. That is unlikely when a single seat is being voted on.

    County mayor? Let me find my Stetson hat! Should only be for cities, counties just dilute what influence the job may have. Also can you imagine some popular hick winning and being mainly interested in roads and drink driving laws.?

    Yes, I think the county thing is nuts, but there you go, we don't have a choice on that since Phil Hogan did away with the city council. The whole idea of a mayor, throughout history and worldwide, is that they're the leader/first citizen of an urban area - which can be big or small, but still nevertheless identifiable as a city or town, as opposed to a county or region. Trust us to do things differently!

    hardybuck wrote: »
    If Mayors were elected, we could only ever draw from a pool of local candidates willing to put themselves forward as candidates. If CEOs continue to be employed rather than elected, they can be sourced from anywhere to ensure the best possible candidate is secured.

    The city/county manager/CEO position will still exist, won't it? I would see it as being very much an administrative position that's complementary to the Mayor, much like how senior civil servants relate to the Taoiseach. The roles are different.

    hardybuck wrote: »
    CEOs in council's are often heavily experienced and aren't politicans (or teachers!). If this went ahead the likes of Waterford would have totally different structures to their neighbours, which would come with long term risks

    So you see a risk of Kilkenny and Wexford doing better than us by retaining the existing structures? I see bigger long term risks in not having the same structures as Cork and Limerick.


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