So while the Luzon discussion was happening this past week, I happened to be reading City Club's 2003 Community Study that evaluates the council-manager government system, and I have to say … it got me thinking.

And it got me to my question: if we had a strong mayor form of City government, would the Luzon have fallen?

In a mayoral form of government, where the Mayor is truly running the city, the mayor has to think about the politics of his/her decisions. I know politics gets thrown around as a dirty word, but think back to this last week. With a groundswell of support for preserving the Luzon, a mayor might have decided it was in his/her political best interest to hold off demolition and give time for a developer to save it. Being answerable to a groundswell of support is one of the benefits of having elected leaders.

The Council-Manager system for the city is more akin to a non-profit. You have a board of directors supervising an Executive Director. The board has some major responsibilities, certainly: financial oversight, long-term visioning, and hiring/firing their ED. When applied to a city, it removes a lot of the daily decision making from the elected leaders (the compromise version of the two forms might be the Council-County Executive system at Pierce County).

Now, as it happens, the 2003 City Club study recommends keeping the council-manager system, even in the wake of Brame disaster (which was about as close as we've ever gotten to changing the system, I think). But it also airs the counter-point pretty effectively as well. It's got pretty good arguments for both sides.

If you're interested in the topic, you should check out the document. And I'm definitely interested to hear what people think about this.

UPDATE: I hope it's clear that I'm not going after Eric Anderson or even his specific decision to take down the building. When you are accountable to 9 bosses, and a proposal like saving the Luzon comes along, you're going to weigh a lot of risks–budget, public safety, etc. If he'd opted to let it stand, and it fell into the street and killed someone, you can bet he'd be facing some serious questions from the Council. It's a very difficult place to be and I don't envy him that.

A strong mayor would weigh all those same things, of course, but to me that's the point. They're elected to do that. If a mayor makes a bad call, then we have the opportunity to elect someone else. If a City Manager makes a bad call, it's harder for citizens to do anything about it.

LAST UPDATE:
This is the most interesting picture of the Luzon demolition I've seen yet. It was taken by an iPhone no less.