Local governments generally follow three forms or some variation of each strong mayor, weak mayor and council manager. Although the form of government is more dependent on people to be efficient, I believe the council-manager offers the best potential.
All three place policy decisions in the hands of the elected officials which is where it should be. The council-manager provides for a trained, educated, professional administrator to implement the policies. The administrator should then appoint all department heads subject to the council approval. All department heads should be answerable to the council through the county administrator. The appointees should be qualified administrators selected by the manager ó not political appointees in theory.
The council should consist of five to seven elected persons. Generally each should be elected from their district to ensure community-wide representation. County wide rather than specific districts may be acceptable in a homogeneous community such as Kootenai County.
What you describe in your editorial certainly tends to handicap the elected commissioners and reduce efficiency and effectiveness.