Walking the Walk

As of this moment — snow notwithstanding — two of a possible five Municipal Operations Committee meetings have been scheduled:

Thursday, February 20, 6:00pm
Worcester Senior Center, 128 Providence Street

Wednesday, February 26, 6:00 p.m.
Unitarian Universalist Church Hall, 90 Holden Street

I will direct the readership to Dianne Williamson’s column today, “Worcester City Council: Land of let’s pretend“, as that summarizes everything I feel about this “process”.

Since Mike O’Brien announced he would be leaving the post of city manager three months ago, the only movement we’ve had in finding a new city manager has been hiring some dude who spoke at a library event and scheduling a couple of meetings.

I’m all for public participation.

It’s certain members of the City Council who have demonstrated, time and time again, that they do not care for public participation.

If they cared about public participation, the name “Ed Augustus” would not have been sprung on a nearly empty chamber with no warning.

If they cared about public participation, we would not have had to fight for a forum at the beginning of Council meetings to give folks the chance to speak for a scant two minutes to their elected officials.

If they cared about public participation, they would have a clear plan in place outlining what they will do with public input and when they will actively start looking for a city manager.

Councilor Palmieri said at a recent City Council meeting that he would have hoped the city would have sent an “email blast out to everyone.”

Cities with seven hills weren’t built in a day.  And neither is real community engagement.

If we had had a City Council that honestly wanted to have a real conversation with the community before this, then perhaps we could have had listening sessions for citizens to attend, and an online forum for constructive conversation, and come together to talk about the big issues.

But that’s not how our political system works.

We instead treat our elected officials as glorified DPW Customer Service reps, and vote for our favorites.

We have City Council Standing Committees devoted to stop signs, speed limits, and sidewalk repairs.  Rather than letting professionals be professionals, we have meetings to discuss who gets their street paved, and perpetuate the myth that you need to know someone in high places to get anything done.

This is why nothing can get done: the leaders have created a system whereby they only pay attention to the trees and never see the forest.

When we have meetings about real issues, like slots parlors, citizens suddenly find that they are interrupted by their elected officials, or else are ignored by them.

Either you want to hear from us or you don’t.  And by your previous actions, I’m guessing you don’t.

The three people who immediately rose to acclaim Ed Augustus as the anointed one are those who were part of the gang who got rid of Tom Hoover in 2004: Joe Petty, Rick Rushton, and Phil Palmieri.

I don’t recall being asked for my input on that personnel decision, or any of those three councilors holding that item so that the public could have input.

This is a Council that has had the same criteria for evaluating the city manager for years (though they don’t seem to be able to remember what that criteria is).  They already know what they want.  They have asked for it and seem to have gotten it.

Don’t ask if you’re not honestly interested in having a continuing conversation with citizens.

Don’t ask if you’re just going to treat us as idiots the next time we testify in front of you at a City Council meeting.

And, for goodness sake, don’t ask if the only purpose is a delaying tactic so that the whole city can love the one we’re with for an extended 3-5 year contract.

Because there’s really no excuse for not starting the RFP process for an executive search firm now, while we’re listening, so that they’re ready to go by the time we’re finished listening.

Advertisements

One thought on “Walking the Walk

  1. gayle says:

    From my observation of these , Worcester’s public meetings, is there will possibly be a few political hackies who will give rehearsed praises of glorification of the cities ways of doing things . What I would like asked at this meeting (I’m unable to attend) is if council has received any resumes? will they be made public? who shall resumes be sent to? Will council acknowledge receipt of resume like a professional business would????
    Ultimately, I feel, these meetings will serve as an excuse not to hold meetings for some other future important issue that has to be rushed thru like “specific breed ordinance”
    When Gaffney (good for him) asked the council to have a timeline of this process for city manager,no one seemed to noticed that council answered and then did their normal song and dance that Worcester residents take for a normal process.(the answer was maybe later considering they have picked their man ) and is just waiting for his answer.
    I do feel that this is their right to try and get an efficient government. Worcester residents should be requesting that council discuss the process and timeline if Augustus doesn’t want it.
    I do not feel that the “2 min. public speaking rule” for council meetings are what constitutes a complete submission to transparency in government but is just part of the process for ideas and it should have controls unless it is to become rule by mob force.
    What I really feel is important is your very focus statement

    “We instead treat our elected officials as glorified DPW Customer Service reps, and vote for our favorites We have City Council Standing Committees devoted to stop signs, speed limits, and sidewalk repairs. Rather than letting professionals be professionals, we have meetings to discuss who gets their street paved, and perpetuate the myth that you need to know someone in high places to get anything done.”

    I also feel that we taxpayers are paying dearly for Dept. Heads that do not do their jobs as evidence by so many complaints that can’t be answered by council because “we can’t tell them how to run their dept” even tho they do authorize the budget and the Dept. heads are not embarrassed byfailure to answer average complaints .
    Worcester Taxpayers are the fools that have let this go on for so long and this is why Worcester is a failure to thrive city .

    This is why nothing can get done: the leaders have created a system whereby they only pay attention to the trees and never see the forest.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s