"I'd go to the fastest-growing city in the world, find their city manager and steal him away," he said last week at a candidate forum sponsored by the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce.
What a thrilling idea! We did a little digging on Mr. Galetti's behalf and discovered that two cities are in a dead heat for first in population growth: Lagos, Nigeria, and Dhaka, Bangladesh. By 2015, both cities will top the 20 million mark, becoming the world's third- and fourth-largest cities, respectively (right behind Tokyo and Bombay), according to a United Nations study.
Lagos has a slight edge (.5 percent), so we sought its head honcho -- but the government's official Web site was down.
Too bad. Lagos' boss probably would have leaped at the opportunity to abandon the shanty-slum megalopolis. "The best thing about Lagos is leaving it," declares the online travel guide www.lonelyplanet.com. "Lagos is a sprawling, steamy, overpopulated city with bumper-to-bumper traffic, an international reputation for crime, a corrupt and top-heavy bureaucracy, a creaking infrastructure and a highly visible poverty factor."
So we clicked over to dhakacity.com, where we discovered the earnest-looking Shafiqul Islam staring back at us. As the chief executive officer of the Dhaka City Corporation (Dhaka's apparently pro-business version of City Hall), he answers only to the mayor.
Dhaka appears to be better off than its burgeoning African sister, so it might be hard to lure Mr. Islam away. Hugging the banks of the Buriganga River, Dhaka was once known as the "City of Rickshaws." But a thriving sweatshop economy has put more cars on the road and skyscrapers on the horizon, giving the place a real 21st-century sense of urgency.
Plus we might not be able to afford Mr. Islam. The largest portion of Dhaka's revenue budget -- some 740 million takas (about $13 million) -- is earmarked for officer and employee salaries. But under Mr. Islam's leadership, the DCC keeps to its priorities by devoting 4.8 billion takas to its ongoing assault on the city's mosquito menace. (There are trillions of the little bloodsuckers, many of which carry traces of dengue fever.)
At the risk of stealing Mr. Galetti's thunder or intruding on whatever Mayor Kay Barnes might be doing in secret meetings, we couldn't help trying to assist in the city manager selection process. So we e-mailed Mr. Islam the following note:
Dear Mr. Shafiqul Islam,
We are writing from Kansas City, Missouri, a city of glorious fountains and parks nestled near the center of the United States on the mighty Missouri River. Our leaders are currently searching for a city manager. Recently, one of our local politicians exclaimed, "We should find out what's the fastest-growing city in the world and steal their city manager away. I don't care how much it costs -- we should get that person to work for Kansas City."
Mr. Islam, that person is you! So, would you like a job in a homey Midwestern berg of 450,000 souls? If so, how much will it cost us? Please let us know as soon as possible.
Yours very truly,
P.S. We have mosquitoes here, some of which carry the deadly West Nile Virus. But they're not nearly as fearsome as our current budget crisis, which we're hoping you'll help us solve. And rest assured, no matter how poor the city gets, as city manager you will always enjoy a spacious and sumptuous office on the top floor of our City Hall, one of the tallest city government buildings in North America!
Unfortunately, as of our press date, we hadn't heard back.