Council’s retreat menu hardly a healthy alternative

Other than a few items, the City Council’s recent retreat agenda
reads like a regular, old meeting laundry list. Clearly, the
Council did not work together to develop a theme for the retreat.
Perhaps that’s emblematic of the current Council dynamics, or
perhaps it’s a consequence of the lack of leadership.
1. Where’s the theme? Where’s the creative thinking, the leadership?

Other than a few items, the City Council’s recent retreat agenda reads like a regular, old meeting laundry list. Clearly, the Council did not work together to develop a theme for the retreat. Perhaps that’s emblematic of the current Council dynamics, or perhaps it’s a consequence of the lack of leadership.

Regardless, the agenda items were a smorgasbord ranging from Library Project Update to South County Regional Wastewater Authority Expansion Projects to Neighborhood Park Fee Process. It’s as if the planning for the “big” meeting consisted of an email like this: “Any Council member who has an item for the agenda send it in to the City Clerk.”

If that’s considered effective pre-planning for a Council retreat, it points out why so many residents have such a poor opinion of the Council.

2. No topical agenda items revolving around a ‘big picture’ theme

Where are the “big picture” items? Well, there was one. Community Perception of the Council made the agenda. The perception of the Council is a reflection of the Council. If more time were devoted, for example, to choosing a clear theme and setting an agenda that revolved around that theme with topical, important items – items that would not normally appear on the Council’s agenda.

A theme for this year might have been “Redefining Public Safety.” In tight budget times, the Council spends 80 percent of our money on public safety. Clearly there are issues with that for the community. Are recreational programs public safety? How could volunteers be more effectively used? Is binding arbitration for police and fire fighters good for Gilroy?

3. A good theme topic would have been the city’s growth control law

Another theme could have revolved around the ordinance which covers building homes in Gilroy known as the RDO, the Residential Development Ordinance. Are the fees the city charges developers sustainable in this new economic reality? How fast should Gilroy grow when the market returns (if it does)? Are there better ways to coordinate growth between the city and school district.

The retreats have seemingly drifted into an undisciplined arena where anything can command agenda attention. Lack of effective planning and no clearcut theme is hardly the way to define direction for the future of Gilroy.

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