Elected official’s job involves stewardship of taxpayers’ dollars, Duchild says

To the editor:

After reading Mr. Michael Wild’s letter in the Oct. 17 issue of the Call, I felt compelled to respond.

Mr. Wild asserted that the board’s actions regarding the Spellman Avenue project represented another problem with elected officials.

Mr. Wild’s remarks reflect a misunderstanding of elected officials’ responsibilities. Part of our role as aldermen involves the stewardship of taxpayer dollars. To be effective stewards, we must be fully engaged in the oversight of expenditures as well as the compliance with established policies and processes.

If we neglect these responsibilities, we fail to properly uphold the oath we took when we were sworn into office.

Mr. Wild may view our input as “paralyzing the process,” but the questions that were raised regarding the Spellman contract were legitimate and necessary.

I questioned why the city did not issue a request for qualifications, or RFQ, because the value of the engineering contract — $42,500 — was more than four times higher than the $10,000 threshold established in the city’s purchasing policy.

My concern, coupled with the questions another alderman raised regarding a liability insurance amount that was less than the industry standard, reflect our sworn duty to ensure that the city is in compliance with its own procedures, that taxpayers’ dollars are spent wisely and that the city is properly protected against risk. If we simply outsource our responsibilities to the professionals, we would lose this very necessary step of oversight.

It may be frustrating to those who would like to see government work faster, but ignoring our oversight responsibilities is not the answer. Mr. Wild asks that we just let the professionals do their jobs, but as elected officials, we also have a job to do, and that job involves the stewardship of taxpayer dollars.

Perhaps Mr. Wild might consider extending to the aldermen the same courtesy he so readily gives other professionals, and allow us to do our jobs.