My Kingdom for a Treasurer!

Posted by on 09/02/10 in America, Government, Stewardship

In a literary reference often overlooked by high school English teachers, Shakespeare’s King Richard called out “A Treasurer! A Treasurer! My Kingdom for a Treasurer!” just moments before he lost his horse. Alas, he had neither reliable Treasurer nor brave horse and thus lost his kingdom. Let’s hope we do better.

In the coming months, voters around the country will select governors, senators, and congressmen. We will vote on controversial amendments and propositions. Further “down ballot” most of us will find elections for school boards, judges, university regents, attorneys general, and the little known and even lesser understood office of municipal treasurer.

Treasurers of municipal districts (states, cities, counties, etc.) are an underappreciated lot. Given their intense responsibilities, they also are under-scrutinized by voters and the media, and in too many cases under-qualified or under-resourced. Cynics might argue that the Treasurer’s office is nothing more than a political stepping stone to the greater glories of mayoralty or governorship or a chance to pocket some spare change from vendors of various stripes.

However, we believe that electing someone to serve as caretaker of the community’s purse is one of the most vital decisions voters can make and one worthy of the most thoughtful consideration. Syntrinsic has crafted a generic job posting for Municipal Treasurer in an effort to capture a sense of the arduous and often thankless task faced by the keepers of the purse strings.

For Immediate Posting: Municipal Treasurer

The Municipality of [Insert locale here] seeks a Treasurer who possesses the judgment of King Solomon, the courage of King Arthur, the compassion of Mother Theresa, and the communication skills and media savvy of Oprah Winfrey.

The following responsibilities are to be completed in full, without exception, every day, even during election cycles, with limited staff, without undue influence caused by partisanship, media hype, special interest pressure, kickbacks, traveling salesmen, or CNBC:

· Renegotiate unrealistic pension obligations made by previous administrations. Do so without causing taxpayer revolt, regional strikes, or municipal bankruptcy. Honor the sanctity of contracts while modifying them.

· Unwind illiquid derivative contracts with obscure counterparties without negatively impacting the balance sheet or attracting the attention of credit rating agencies, the press, voters, regulators, or former municipal employees whose jobs were cut to pay for the failed investments.

· Vet the fiscal health and ethical business practices of all financial institutions with whom the municipality does business, including custodians, bond issuers, credit providers, money fund issuers, bond traders, investment banks, broker-dealers, consultants, insurance underwriters, banks Pension Plan platforms, money managers, research providers, technology vendors, and other assorted financial partners.

· Assist in evaluating how the municipality can take on greater regulatory oversight for financial institutions and finance professionals within your jurisdiction, given changes in the national regulatory landscape.

· Improve education by cutting education spending. Stimulate the economy by raising taxes on businesses. Encourage employment by increasing the cost of hiring new employees. Identify other contradictions and address them with grace and composure.

· Predict the future.

Eligible candidates should be able to demonstrate the following skills and traits:
· Fearlessness
· A wonkish delight in policy balanced by a disdain for wonkishness
· Healthy skepticism
· Hope and faith
· The ability to make impossible choices
· The ability to make sure that no one blames you for the impossible choices you have made so that you can stay in office and make more of them
· The ability to travel to distant regions, meet new people, and persuade them to entrust you with their money
· Offend and inconvenience no one
· Persuade most everyone to share the burden and feel good about it
· Stay out of the press, but keep citizens informed
· Be transparent, but don’t cause a panic
· Make wise long-term decisions without the next election distracting you
· Raise money. (For yourself. It costs a lot to be a Treasurer these days.)

Final Consideration
For those uncertain if they might be suitable candidates, we have found that effective municipal Treasurers often have backgrounds as alchemists, nuclear weapons inspectors, HazMat crew chiefs, and Supreme Court justices. Mortals need not apply.

Please forward cover letter, resume, and glitzy promotional video to the address below. We will review your materials as soon as we can afford to rehire our elections staff. They were laid-off after one of our structured notes failed to protect the municipality’s principal. The lawyers tell us that the prospectus had said that might happen but…well, you know.

Attention: Candidates for Treasurer, State of Distress, One Long Road, Capital City, USA