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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with J. Carlton Fleming, [date unknown]. Interview B-0068. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Bureaucracy doomed consolidation in Charlotte

The inevitably accelerating complexity of bureaucracy doomed consolidation in Charlotte, Fleming believes.

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Oral History Interview with J. Carlton Fleming, [date unknown]. Interview B-0068. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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I think there were people who saw it, but they were people who figured there was just not a whole lot they could do about it because they had assigned a guy, not a guy but a group of people part of the pie. That part of the pie just got bigger and bigger and bigger, and those people thought it was the most important thing in the charter. They'd build it up and build it up and build it up. It's sort of the way bureaucracy operates. The first thing you know, you've got people who are so tied in with what they themselves see as their function . . .Well, on a governmental level sometimes they add staff and they add projects and they ask for additional appropriations. As soon as they come in, you add staff and you add projects. The thing just has the inborr ability to pyramid. I think that's what happened here. We got over-complicated in the approach because we had so many people that we assigned jobs to. I don't know that there was particular lack of communication. I think there probably was pretty good communication. I don't think anybody really felt they had the ability to say, "Well, you fellows over there in Article Four, Section Three who are responsible for that . . .You've just gone haywire." I'm afraid that sort of the human result of all this was that the work of that particular segment was just sort of folded in with everything else. That not just added to it, it multiplied it, the complexity of the entire operation.
That does seem to be a very difficult sort of thing to control. It does look like it did get out of hand.
Well, our basic mistake was in trying to come up with a perfect charter in conjunction with consolidation. If we had consolidated first and then tried to come up with as close to a perfect charter or an improved charter as we could come up with gradually after we had a consolidated government, I think the effort would have had a good chance of success. But, we tried to get all the perfection at the same time we tried to merge, and the people didn't understand all those anxieties for perfection, and didn't think the proffered perfection was perfection.