19 Aug 2014
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About City Commission Meetings

About City Commission Meetings

A lack of communication between the Administration, primarily City Manager Don Johnson, and appointed committees and commissions has bubbled up during the last three or four meetings of the City Commission. The Market Committee, several historical preservation focused groups, and the Downtown Development Authority come quickly to mind. With the exception of the DDA, the common complaint about Johnson is that he makes decisions unilaterally -- without previously checking with the people or groups affected by his decision. During my years in management consulting, I called Johnson's management style the "Hitler technique" That is, occupy the Rhineland. If nobody counterattacks . . .

As irritating as that mindset can be, it has its plusses. It gets things done. And, if a lot of dilly-dallying is delaying a decision, the mindset either moves people forward or at least gets them refocused. I many times saw a solution offered -- which both I and the person or committee offering it knew was the wrong. In rejecting that obviously lousy option, the group accepted one of the options already on the table.

Speaking of irritating mindsets, I am compelled to conclude thatCommissioner Mike Fournier's repeated rambling -- almost as though he assumes his colleagues at The Table need coaching -- seems to have become a form of showboating, of seeking facetime on television. I'm tempted to use my stopwatch to document how many minutes he adds to the length of each meeting. A pity, because he is much better than that.

It was a little irritating, too, when normally quiet Commissioner David Poulton had one of his questioning nights. It seemed that every time he spoke he asked question after question -- disturbingly a bit like a former commissioner. Is it significant that they are both attorneys?

Re the 03 February CITCOM meeting, Public Comment was both more interesting and more substantive than the agenda. There was only one No-vote. That was by Commissioner Kyle DuBuc re one of the motions during the convoluted discussion about renewing or not the Agreement to Operate Concessions at the Farmers Market. In essence, the current agreement was extended until year-end, at which time RFPs will be issued.

For the rest, CITCOM approved:

  • The Fire Department's request to purchase a unique piece of equipment.
  • The Police Department's request to modify its Locker Room.
  • Filling three Inspector positions: Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing.
  • The city manager's appointment of a replacement to the Downtown Development Authority.
  • Reappointments to the Commission for the Arts.
  • A change in Blackfinn's Plan of Operation.

The commission discussed the concept of dedicating parking areas for bicycle parking areas Downtown in summer. The commission suggests that the DDA help fund serving the bicycle community and place the matter on the DDA's next agenda.

During Public Comment:
A police officer praised citizen support for the Police Honor Guard.
√ A spokeswoman for the Library presented a status report; reminded citizens that e-books may be downloaded; encouraged visits to the library; reported a drop in income; gave thanks to the Friends of the Library.
√ A longtime civic activist criticized focusing on "diversification rather than qualification" when making appointments to city committees and commissions.
√ A representative of the Farmers Market Committee complained that the city (read, the city manager) never discussed the Farmers Market concession agreement with the Farmers Market Committee before making its decision.
√ The Manager of the Farmers Market said she has no objection to extending the current concession agreement for a year.
√ The current concessionaire at the Farmers Market had no objection to extending the current agreement for a year.
√ A would-be concessionaire for the Farmers Market concession complained for the second time that no Requests for Proposals were issued.

Frank Versagi is the editor of  Versagi Voice.

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