Assemblyman Chris Norby warns about the dangers of “Bell Syndrome”


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Assemblyman Chris Norby, who once served on the Fullerton City Council, has penned an op-ed over at the O.C. Register, wherein he has coined a new phrase “Bell Syndrome,” which he describes thusly:

“Stockholm syndrome” refers to the counterintuitive behavior of hostages who come to identify with their captors, based on the study of a Swedish kidnapping. Its counterpart in local government is the common acquiescence of elected officials to professional staff. In place of their own judgment they were elected to use, city councils often simply take orders from the city manager.

He further explains the term here:

Bell is an extreme example of a phenomenon common in local government: a tendency of elected municipal officials to rubber stamp staff proposals over which they have little understanding. It is part of a civic culture that marginalizes elected officials as “political” and elevates appointed managers as “experts.”

And here:

City managers and school superintendents need active board members providing strong direction – and looking over their shoulders.

Bell syndrome thrives where elected boards vote in lockstep, where groupthink is elevated, and skeptics are ostracized, and where top staff are seen as irreplaceable experts – with rubber-stamped salaries to prove it. Bell syndrome thrives when self-congratulation trumps self-examination.

Click here to read his entire commentary.

I think Norby is on to something.  But here is another phrase to consider: “Bilodeau Syndrome,” which is the tendency to hire hack staffers who do not put the public good ahead of their own greedy desires for more power.  Dennis Bilodeau worked for Norby and now he is Supervisor Shawn Nelson’s Chief of Staff.  Bilodeau is a Council Member in Orange.  He belongs to about a dozen civic boards and is a quadruple-dipper, at the very least.  He is a living symbol of public pension abuse!


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