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Before I decide what it is that I will be doing in 2014, I sat down and wondered what would I promise the voters of Twentynine Palms? And would I be able to fulfill them?
I have never been one that shirked on a commitment in my professional career or the duties that were required of me. As any good leader knows, with a position of leadership comes responsibility and accountability. And I do feel that I can do the job as a City Councilman, but I would have to run for the position first.
We all know that we need good people to run for public office and no incumbent should get a free ride to re-election. Elections should be about new ideas and providing an open forum for the City to debate and discuss ways for a better future. And running for office against an incumbent is not easy. Incumbents have many advantages such as name recognition, money and inside knowledge of how things work in politics and government. And through my time on the Planning Commission and with the Chamber of Commerce I have tried to encourage implementing new ideas in government. Not all officials have expressed any interest in any new ideas. Some seem to like the status quo and keeping government operations just as they are. Some would want to just compromise so that the establishment is happy and then they can get re-elected again in a few years. I think that we’ve had enough compromise…enough of establishment. There should be no insider good old boys clubs and there should be term limits set.
What ideas do I have the City of Twentynine Palms? Every heard of American exceptionalism? I think there should be Twentynine Palms exceptionalism. This means that we are different than other cities and that we have a uniqueness that cannot be matched.
With all that being said I came up my list of things that I would attempt fulfill as a City Councilman that could bring about those ideas. Now I know that some of these will not make some people happy. But here they are:
1. Do you recall the TV show “Undercover Boss”? It was basically management by walking around. It showed how much can be learned by working beside employees, even for a short while. I would commit to spending a day every month working in a different department of our City. I intend to learn a tremendous amount from front-line employees so that I could get a better appreciation of what they do. I believe I could gain new policy ideas for changing how our City government works.
2. Priority goal setting is a must. Get away from reactionary issues and set a list that is followed. Other successful people and organizations set goals. And other elected officials around the country meet annually to set goals for the coming year. So, for whatever reason such goal setting meetings rarely seem to actually get anything neither set nor are they followed. Getting everyone to agree on a few high priority goals may take some effort, but if we set them and follow them I believe could get some really important things accomplished. I would take the initiative to be a leader and arrange for a goal setting retreat with my colleagues.
3. Start implementing Lean strategies. Lean is a set of tools used successfully in organizations around the world to improve their operations and local governments throughout the U.S. have started using Lean to reduce the amount of time it takes to issue permits, fill pot-holes etc. The bureaucracy of our City has frustrated many citizens. I want to focus on improving how the City operates and it can make a big difference and a name for themselves. By making this commitment to do more with less, speeding up services and using resources to best effect possible. 4. Customer Service Plan – Officials elected to office are to set policies and expectations. Quality customer service for the citizens you serve should be expressed in the form of a policy that sets goals and expectations.
5. Ordinance/Regulation/Code/Policy Task Force – This has already started in the form of the new General Plan, that has been adopted, and the ongoing update of the Development Code by the Planning Commission. I would tackle the Municipal Code since there are errors and changes that need to be addressed. I would look at all current City Policies to see if they are needed. This would allow us look at the current written documents to determine if they still make sense and are necessary. The Task Force would be required to: - Identify reforms that will produce significant savings, especially for small business.
- Report to the public regularly on their efforts and plans.
- Obtain public comments to see which rules should be simplified, improved or repealed.
6. Open Government Policy – Citizens want government that is open, honest and transparent. Open government does not happen by accident, it must be an established goal/policy. Communities across the country have adopted open government policies, why can’t we? If I were in office I would commit to a resolution adopting an open government policy that would accomplish the following:
- Commit our local government to operating in an open & transparent way
- Create an open government advisory board consisting of citizens and city government officials
- Development of a plan to make our government more open and transparent
- Monitoring of achieving the goals set 7. Create a Contract and Procurement Policy Board – There is a lot of money in government contracts available, there are many issues that a Contract and Procurement Policy Board could and should address. The purpose of such a Board is: to create policies for procurement of goods and services; to encourage cooperative purchasing by departments; establish and review policies with respect to the methods for soliciting bids or proposals and awarding contracts; create standards and procedures to be used in determining whether vendors are responsible.
8. Support Goal Setting – Government will not move forward until elected city officials collaborate on establishing three high priority goals for each department. It is important to limit department goals as too many goals cause people and departments to lose focus. Defining goals will bring a new clarity of focus and make government more effective and efficient. We need city leaders who can work with others instead of fighting about politics, patronage and egos. To move our community forward we need debates about priorities. 9. Term Limits – Government service should not be a career as power even at the local level can corrupt. As a challenger I know that new ideas and new faces in government are important. Incumbent politicians tend to get comfortable with the status quo and their own power. I would support and introduce term limits as a way to bring new ideas and new faces into government service.
10. Learn How to Say No – Sometime rather than simply rubber-stamping the proposals brought before the city, we should just say no. Now I would hope that council members take their responsibility quite seriously do their own research and homework. Look at these issues very carefully. Consider what is absolutely essential and what is not. Debate these issues with one another, even as you listen to the people of the community. And above all, learn to say no. 11. End Taxpayer Subsidies for Economic Development –Study after study has determined that government efforts to create jobs and companies fail. Be a voice in stopping the madness of corporate welfare. You can create incentives for developments just do not pay for it with taxpayer monies. I would create programs that allow the city to waive development-cost levies, reduce parking requirements, approve smaller apartment sizes, give developers the authority to build more units than they would have been permitted, and accelerate the processing of applications.
12. Participatory Budgeting – The citizens do not feel as though their voices are heard by city officials. Citizens are not engaged with their cities government as far as actively participating in government decisions. Some elected officials are addressing this disconnect through a process called Participatory Budgeting, whereby a portion of a municipalities budget are determined by citizens. Through community meetings citizens will discuss, rank and vote on things like where capital budget dollars should be spent.
13. Create an Innovation Fund – The purpose of such a fund is to provide seed money for one-time investments that will lead to improved results, increased revenue, and/or reduced ongoing operating costs. The Innovation Fund is meant to be self-sustaining; savings from the investments are returned to the Fund so that other projects may be funded. Continuing this Fund is one way to keep department heads and staff focused on innovation and spur creative solutions on how to use limited resources.
14. Competition – Government services should be provided as effectively and efficiently as possible. One way to address the providing of government services better, faster and cheaper is through competition. Honest bid soliciting that is not skewed towards the politically connected is important. In some communities public sector employees are given the opportunity to compete with private sector companies to see who can provide services, better, faster and cheaper. 15. Benchmarking Performance – One way to improve government services is to compare how effective and efficient services are being provided with similar municipalities.
16. Question what services our city provides – What does our city own that are subsidized by tax dollars that private entities may be able to do better, faster and cheaper? 17. Economic Development Director- The city created a position but has yet to fill it and it remains un-funded. I would fill the position fund it at $XX,000 a year but also have it as a performance-based compensation package. There’s nothing like performance-based compensation to motivate people.
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