The tendency of the Ballard administration to place younger, inexperienced people in key leadership positions is a phenomena I've written about before. This is an April 2009 article I wrote:
The new blog Indianapolis Times reports that Deputy Mayor Nick Weber and Chief of Staff Paul Okeson are on their way out at City Hall.Cotterill being too inexperienced for the positions he received in city government is not an aberration. If you look throughout city government you will often find younger, less experienced management heading up older, far more experienced employees.
That is not surprising news. Turnover in those types of positions happen a lot. What I find most disconcerting is the suggestion that current head of City Legal Chris Cotteril, a former Barnes & Thornburg attorney, might be taking over as Chief of Staff.
By far one of the weaker links in the Mayor's Office has been the poor quality of legal work and advice coming from City Legal, which I think is due chiefly to the failure of the Mayor to put into supervisory positions experienced attorneys. Chris Cotterill, had less than five years experience (I don't think any in litigation) when he was appointed head of entire City Legal, which is made up of approximately 27 attorneys, bigger than most law firms in town. Jonathan Mayes, who had two years experience, was appointed head of the litigation division of City Legal. As any trial attorney will tell you, there is no substitute for actual experience when it comes to litigation, even more so when you're supervising other attorneys involved in litigation. Now as someone with 21 1/2 years legal experience, I can't imagine supervising a team of trial attorneys when I only had 2 years of litigation experience.
I've been advised by friends that Cotterill is a good person and have no doubt that is true. But, the Mayor, as someone very inexperienced in politics and inexperience that is showing in virtually every move he makes, desperately needs experienced individuals around him who won't hesitate to give him honest political advice that challenges that of a Bob Grand, Joe Loftus and others who know their way around the 25th Floor and seem more interested in helping their clients than looking out for the Mayor's political future. Chris Cotterill does not appear to be the experienced, unconflicted advisor Mayor Ballard desperately needs.
Why the preference toward younger, inexperienced people in city management? Very simple. People who are older and more experienced are going to be more independent-minded and question when they're told to do things that seem unethical or improper. Younger people, who have only recently stepped onto the career ladder, are not going to question what they're told to do, especially when they're being told to do those things by the political power brokers who got them the job in the first place.