7-29-11 Farewell Mick...they could use you in Washington
Now that Willmar City Administrator Michael Schmit is retiring from the city, maybe he should head out to Washington and help them figure out their budget quagmire. Schmit has been quite skillful during his 21 years as the city's first and only administrator making the city run like a well-oiled machine. Willmar has been fortunate that a local boy decided to pursue a career in public service and did it in his home town. So often the post of city administrator is used as a stepping stone to bigger jobs in bigger cities, but Mick was happy to stay here. Schmit never run-for, and has never been elected to, public office, yet he's been the driving force in city policy for more than 2 decades. He's not directly accountable to city residents in the form of an election, however the city council regularly reviews his performance. Schmit has rightfully taken pride in hiring good staff and department heads around him. Nearly every city and town you can think of has had some sort of scandal or controversy involving a city employee, but for the life of me, I can't think of any involving hires of Mick Schmit. Possibly some of the fire department turmoil in the early-to-mid 90s, but that's about it. Mick has been very open and runs a transparent operation, and we've been fortunate to have him appear on the Open Mike (Open Mick?) show twice a month for the past 15 years. We'll miss his wealth of experience and hope his successor, Charlene Stevens, can carry on his tradition of steady operation and consensus-building on the council.
In Washington, Tuesday is Armegeddon Day for the budget. If congress doesn't raise the debt ceiling, the U.S. will default on countless debts, and the country's bond rating will be lowered. That will raise interest rates on borrowing and will hit us all in the pocketbook. The Republicans have used this usually-procedural event to demand steep cuts in spending, and Tea Party disciples like Michele Bachmann have vowed not to vote for any deal that raises the debt ceiling. It's not looking good...the President and Congress are playing chicken, and so far, only House Speaker John Boehner has shown any sign of blinking, much to the chagrin of many of his much more conservative Tea Party members. President Obama has raised the spectre of Social Security recipients not getting their checks, which is a complete sham because Social Security money comes from a designated fund paid for through your paycheck deductions, and at this time there's plenty of money there. A few decades ago, congress started "borrowing" money from Social Security to pay other bills, and some say the account is stocked with nothing but IOUs. While the U.S. military is fearsome, they are nothing compared to the havoc that Social Security recipients will wreak if those checks are cut off, for any reason.