When Aberdeen Mayor Patrick McGrady opened his mouth to whine about changes the City Council recently approved to the city charter, we could've sworn it was his voice, but our words coming out.
"It's important the people get a say in what they vote for, and [that] they elect the next mayor for the authority they want him to have," McGrady said, explaining why he's opposed to changes to the charter that he says diminish the mayor's authority.
The mayor is investigating not only whether it's worth pursuing putting the issue before the voters on a referendum, but also how to get it on the ballot.
A year and a half after he was elected mayor, McGrady said about the charter changes that "the City Council voted … to change the results of the election because they think they know better than the voters how the Mayor and Council should interact," he wrote in a statement.
If only his feigned caring about voters deciding important matters, or the disingenuous nature of his words to make his points were not so obviously and comically phony, we would agree with him wholeheartedly.
Instead, we have to say we half-heartedly agree with his most recent position, but we have nothing but disdain for politicians jumping from one side of a fence to the other in pursuit of support for their opinion.
McGrady's election as mayor in Aberdeen in November 2015 was surprising and the beginning of a contentious year and a half of city government in that community. The election tie for the fourth and final City Council seat complicated matters.
Months later, after failed attempts to win City Council approval of two people he proposed for appointment to the council seat and clinging to a city attorney's opinion that the tie could only be broken by an appointment, not a runoff election, McGrady still wasn't championing the voters.
During the months-long 3-1 vote stalemate between the mayor and the City Council over who would be the fourth council member, council members were advocating for a runoff or special election to the voters could decide. The mayor was having none of it.
Now, it's the mayor advocating for having the voters decide and the City Council members who are saying the charter changes don't warrant the voters getting involved.
"It had nothing to do with the mayor at all," Councilwoman Sandra Landbeck said about the charter changes. "I'm really sorry it got billed like that. It was really to straighten out a conflict with our charter with the duties of the city manager It's so unfortunate it got tagged like that. We were streaming out things in our charter with the duties of the city manager and the duties of the mayor."
The mayor disagrees.
"In 2010, [Landbeck] cast a vote in favor of the current form of government, when significant powers were modified and given to the mayor," McGrady said. "Now there's a different mayor and now the mayor needs different powers, seemingly."
We agree. Despite the flip-flopping being done, first by the mayor and now by the majority of the City Council, only the names of those in office should change, not the form of government.
When the election was tied, we passionately and repeatedly advocated for having the voters decide. The city attorney disagreed and, ultimately, McGrady ignored pleas from us and others to have the voters decide. We agree that the voters should decide on changes to the structure of Aberdeen's government.
They would tell McGrady and the City Council not only if these changes strike them as being major, but also where they stand on them.
For us, the matter is simple: asking the voters to decide anything about their government is never a bad thing. It should, clearly, be the preferred method for settling differences of government opinions, especially over the legal position offered by any one lawyer.