By Anthony Zambuto
Separation of powers is a model that divides government into separate branches, each of which has separate and independent powers. Separation of Powers in the United States is associated with the Checks and Balances system. The Checks and Balances system provides each branch of government with individual powers to check the other branches and prevent any one branch from becoming too powerful. On a federal level the United States has the Executive Branch (The President and Vice-President), Legislative Branch (Congress), and the Judicial Branch (The Supreme Court). On a local level, The City of Revere operates under a Plan B form of government which includes a Mayor (Executive Branch), the City Council (Legislative Branch), and the Massachusetts Court System (Judicial Branch). For the purpose of this op-ed, I will be discussing the Executive and Legislative Branches of the City of Revere.
Currently there are six employees of the City of Revere who are also candidates for City Council. Hypothetically speaking, if all six candidates were successful in their campaigns, there would be no separation of powers between the Mayor’s Office and the City Council. In other words, there would be no Checks and Balances system in place, and the Mayor would become too powerful. Without checks and balances, there would be a lack of integrity in public service which devalues the trust and confidence in the abilities of those City employees to serve on the City Council with true impartiality.
There will always be an underlying appearance of conflict by those City employees. Any vote taken by City employees who are also City Councillors would cause any reasonable person to believe that the City employee can be improperly influenced by their appointing authority, the Mayor. There would also be many instances where City employees who are also City Councillors would have to recuse themselves from discussion and participation on any matter, financial or otherwise, having to do with the department in which they work. It is a duty of the City Council to vote on legislative matters and if City employees who are also City Councillors cannot vote and perform their Council duties because of conflicts of interest, then what is the purpose of them serving?