What I’m still learning

A few weeks ago, I blogged about what I’d learned so far.     Unfortunately, in the short time since I wrote that, land development developments (more about this soon), Charter Commission appointment process changes (ditto), and what’s happened with the Waterford annexation (and here) all undermine my statement that city staff have not taken over the city.

BUT…I still believe, even more strongly now, that you out there need to hold the Council responsible for failing to do our jobs rather than pointing fingers at the staff.

Have staff overstepped their authority? Yes, I believe they have.

Why have they done this? Because the Council (and previous Councils – this is an entrenched cultural problem, not a one time error) has allowed it to happen. Transparency in the workings of city government is paramount.   The council has failed to make clear that anything that smacks of secrecy, or strategic withholding of information, and or non-public process are all unacceptable.

What now? Mayor Rossing, in her role as leader of  Council and setter of agendas, must lead on this issue and help the Council craft a sufficiently strong message to our staff.    You can help by telling the Mayor, me and the rest of the Council that you are the real voting, tax-paying bosses of the City and you’d like to see change.

4 thoughts on “What I’m still learning

  1. Pingback: The fight with Waterford Township: communication/transparency issues again bite City of Northfield in the ass « Locally Grown Northfield

  2. But here’s the problem… it’s fine to tell the citizens that they must insist on a correct process, but they get repeatedly ‘trashed’ when they do.

    Examples: 1. C. Pokorney saying at Monday’s meeting that the newspaper should have just given the leaked doc back; it would have been the neighborly thing to do…
    ***IMO, no understanding of the role of the 4th Estate.
    2. This AM at the EDA meeting: C. Pokorney saying that “we (what ‘we’ is that?) want Staff to manage the EDA”… IMO, completely outside the legal parameters of the functioning of that taxing authority.
    *** Resulted in personal criticism of offering differing opinions based on just ‘differing’, rather than content, interruptions which reminded speaker not to interrupt, accusations of incompetence and destructive behavior, etc.
    3. Citizens having to fill out a data practice request form to obtain unprotected public information
    ***Need for efficiency/ cost control cited as reason by City Admin, but in reality places extra time burden on staff, as well as being illegal to demand re; public information.
    4. Council does not give courtesy of reply when citizen submits written question, then says it is unnecessary to do so, and City Admin says “not authorized by council to reply”
    *** obvious acts on own without public direction when chooses to
    5. Speakers at open mic being criticized by councilmembers at end of meeting during reports, when person is not allowed to respond
    *** this has continued past the Judy Dirks incident.

    That’s plenty of examples… Frankly, very few people feel comfortable with the process , and promise of better communications/transparency… as you yourself have courageously noted… has not materialized.

  3. Amazingly the same problem all over…..how to insure transparency. I believe that the best solutions come from openness in government but, in spite of that, subcommittees are always doing something behind the curtain of a session which is not open.

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