Sunday, November 30, 2008

Transparency and Efficiency in our City Government - Mike for Mayor

Close-up of Trinidad Memorial Lighthouse Lens
It's my intention to lead a change in the way we've been governing here - creating more faith, respect and pride in Trinidad's government.

As a City of Trinidad Councilmember-Elect, one of the first things I'd like to do is announce my personal Councilmember Blog. Through it, I seek to build new relationships while expanding existing ones. I'd like a new perspective and deeper understanding of Trinidad resident's issues and concerns as I refine my actions around them.

I will be sworn in at our December 10th meeting, at which time I will ask the current Councilmembers to vote for me as Mayor. With our new Council-Manager form of government, I see the primary, and mostly ceremonial, role of our Mayor as a chairman for our Council meetings. What are my qualifications? After serving as Planning Commission Chairman for the past few years, I've learned not only how to run meetings efficiently, but also how to fairly promote compromise in emotionally charged and divisive situations. I've been complimented on my diplomacy by many people on both "sides" of issues, and I would like to bring this leadership to our Council. Whether or not I'm elected, I commit to leading a new openness and transparency in our Council communications - one that is also more reflective of all of Trinidad's residents, not just those who agree with me. Our government works best as a representative team with diverse and sometimes opposing resident's opinions, compromise, and ownership of issues. Our Sales Tax compromise is indicative of this. That being said, it did not pass with a huge majority, which leads me to believe we need to reach out, encourage, and listen even more.

Cronyism can flourish with a lack of openness, transparency and insufficient accountability. While I'm not accusing any specific council member of cronyism, some residents have this perception. I don't want to be part of this perception. I sought out this position because I think it is unnecessary to continue the behind-the-scenes politicking and consensus decision-making that appears to have become such a part of our local government. This develops a clique mentality and its corresponding biased influence does not come close to my new hopes for Trinidad City government. In the past, when gathering signatures for requesting a new sales tax, I participated in this style of government. Working with the City Manager and Clerk about deadlines and requirements, I gathered a supportive group for the issue, and then presented it unbeknownst to most of the Council. What was accomplished by this? A stronger presentation? Maybe, but perhaps unnecessarily so. So how can I lead us away from this? Again, what are my qualifications? I sought this government position and I'm committed to improvement and change for the better. Many residents feel several members on the Council were "recruited" into their positions to promote a shift in power during some of our less proud political days. While I think these members have found stronger, more independent voices, that is the root and some would argue the continuing influence of their service. Of course they can choose to change too, and together we can evolve an even better, more transparent form of government. That being said, I remain grateful for and I respect the service of our Councilmembers, and especially of our Mayor, Chi-Wei Lin.

Where is this coming from? Recently, I've been included in email list circulations which make me uncomfortable. Those, and cautionary emails from our attorney about blogging, prompted me to create my very public Blog and a new commitment to Trinidad residents. Regarding non-confidential City political issues - I only want to correspond with people publicly - especially if those people are fellow Councilmembers or our City Staff. I will use this Blog, and this email address, or talk in public meetings - notwithstanding necessary closed sessions. I will save all correspondence on this blogger.com site and its associated Gmail site, and will maintain its public availability. So, no deleted emails, no exclusive group emails, no serialized emails or meetings, and no other gray area meetings at people's houses. Transparent communication. This concept also means more efficiency in problem-solving by gathering resident's input in a new, more organized and well documented way.

What if you don't want to use these routes? Most likely, I will send you to our City Manager, Steve Albright, first. If unresolved, I'll suggest that you present your issue to the Council. Requests to bend my ear and give advice won't be brushed aside, but I will encourage everyone to write it down, make it public, and to own it. I'm excited to see what happens, and look forward to jumping in with both feet and my whole heart on December 10th. Hope to see you there.

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3 comments:

  1. This is a great idea Mike. I wish you continued success with the city, you continue to serve it well.
    Matt Shaw

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  2. So there's a learning curve here. Heck, I never blogged before Sunday, and we aren't born with this digital knowledge. Here are some comments which were emailed to me -Mike

    "I agree with you that transparency is important. While sometimes it may require extra diligence to ensure that everyone is kept in the loop, it is worth the effort. Communication, participation and trust improve when discussions and proceedings are entirely public." -JP

    "All good wishes as you begin your term, Mike. The Planning Commission's great loss also is the City Council's fine addition." -PF

    "Congratulations, I feel Trinidad is finally going to have a fresh and positive influence by your service." -MB

    "Nice blog...impressive. We'll support you for mayor." -SF

    "I am sure that you will enjoy it and the town will benefit from your enthusiasm and business experience." -DB

    "We hope you are well and are very proud of your civic dedication and support. The people of your community are extremely fortunate to have such a conscientious servant of the people with such vision for the future!" - Mom (she's a little biased of course)

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  3. Chi-Wei did not run for Council, and has submitted a letter to be appointed to the Planning Commission. There are 3 positions open, and 4 resident's submissions for consideration. I think one more is coming. It's my understanding that I will be sworn in, a week from Wednesday on the 10th, and then we, as a Council, will elect one of us Mayor. The Mayor will in turn, at the next meeting I think, seek approval of his or her appointments to the Planning Commission. -Mike

    "Congratulations on your election! I love your energy for Trinidad. Is Chi Wi not running for re-election as Mayor? Who else is running Perhaps more info on your blog!" -JW

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Thank you for taking time to read and respond to my Post. A quick sentence stating your opinion will be much appreciated - it's the reason I'm blogging, Mike