A Matter of Direction

It’s not just another town meeting. It’s a matter of direction.

Tonight the town will hold a special meeting to discuss the interim town manager position created by the departure of Maria Davis. A candidate named Mr. Titcomb, who is known to some degree, I believe, by everyone on the commission through a government association, has been asked to consider assisting Lake Park as the interim to the interim town manager. I believe he plans to attend the meeting tonight, and a discussion of the type of leader our town wants will ensue.

This is it

The process is underway and the ball is rolling. At times like these, getting in early and making a difference is key. Intervention by residents is necessary or the process will take the typical turns and follow the governmental “business as usual” path if residents do not show up and make sure that the commissioners react to our wishes in these matters rather than the wishes of an international governmental organization. And I doubt that most residents have a clue as to that organization’s intentions.

Leadership

The Mayor has suggested going to the ICMA for direction and guidance. This is a leadership decision to which we should pay close attention. If you do not have a clue as to the leadership of those on the town commission, now is the time to watch and make necessary judgments for the good of the town and your family. We have one year before town elections roll around. Pay attention to those who are on the dais. Scrutinize their decisions and their leanings which will take Lake Park into the future. Are they leading or following someone else’s direction?

What are we paying for?

Do your commissioners and mayor rely on governmental organizations to direct them and their ideas about what is important for our town based on a one-size fits all big government model? If you didn’t know, our town is involved, as are many municipalities in Florida, in numerous governmental associations to which WE the residents pay hefty dues. These organizations operate under the auspices of providing “professional services” and in many ways do so, providing help and instruction in some areas in a non-partisan way. However, when you read about the practices of these organizations, their associations and their ideas, you begin to notice that at their core, they are influenced by a decidedly liberal/progressive outlook that colors all the advice they give.

By insinuating their voice and vision into the operations of so many municipalities across our county, state and nation as some sort of leading authority, they have woven their beliefs into the kind of leadership and policies implemented even here in our town. We struggle to stand guard over our small town politicians and the plans they implement. Who scrutinizes the organizations by which our town leaders are also directed and to whom they look for “professional guidance”? Who holds those organizations accountable or watches their objectives and what they promote?

How much influence do you suppose YOU can have over an international organization? They like the prominent place they hold with our leaders. They know you know little to nothing about them and their goals and that you have no say in their operations. Their ability to guide our leaders is astounding, and they have already greatly influenced what has happened here in the past, and the kind of vision and mission and future plans our town has adopted. (And where has that gotten us?) We should stand guard over them just as we should be over our own town. The policies they advocate are slipping into our town government often unnoticed, and they do this AT OUR EXPENSE. Talk about being duped. Please inform yourself. Our town is involved in a number of these governmental agencies. If we can’t influence the influencers, we need to consider getting our town out from under these associations.

SOP

A number of their positions on issues reflect their bias, but those positions are presented as “givens” in most instances so that they never come up for questioning; they are glossed over as standard operating procedure. One such case with the ICMA would be the issue of “contract and labor negotiating” and their acceptance/promotion of it. This should not be a given. This is a hotbed issue, one which many in our country are struggling to beat back, and which many have successfully eliminated just recently. Our town is currently involved in collective bargaining and we should ask ourselves “why?” When did this start, which positions are involved, what is the point and where will that lead from here?

Before these policies which have been insinuated into the governmental conversation can be corrected, they must first become known, then called out. When an organization we residents actually fork over our money for is providing guidance that is slanted toward a bent that definitely doesn’t jibe with all constituents, then our participation in, payment to, and adherence to the premises they lay out as bedrock need to be seriously taken to task, reconsidered and overturned where necessary.

Keywords

The commissioners have received from the ICMA (International City/County Management Association – please take some time to read about the ICMA HERE) a packet of information that provides a list of qualities to look for in a town manger. That list is included in the agenda I linked to yesterday. Read and consider it. What would you like to add or subtract from that list?

There was another list provided to the commission members by Kurt Bressner, who was sent to us from the ICMA to guide us in our selection of an interim, which states key words and phrases to be used by the town when advertising the town manager position. Who will they attempt to lure with these keywords/codewords? These are samples from recent ads in the ICMA newsletter and reflect the type of leader the ICMA wants to have positioned into our town. Most of it is benign, but keep an eye out for specific terms that indicate underlying premises.

The key words and phrases the ICMA would suggest we use are as follows:

“…demonstrated leadership capabilities…”

“…fiscal acumen…”

“…excellent communication & interpersonal skills…”

“…employee/citizen relations (skills)…”

“…labor & contract negotiations (skills)…”

“…technical knowledge  of municipal operations…”

“financial & budget preparation (skills)…”

“…bondable…”

“…progressive, proactive, community-oriented leader…”

“…community 8c economic development (skills)…”

“…community-oriented problem solving…”

“…(experience) achieving community consensus around critical issues…”

“…integration of tehnology into municipal operations…”

“…establishing strategic goals & priortities…”

“…customer service orientation…”

“…strong interpersonal skills…”

“…facilitating a community vision & implementing action plans…”

“…strong commitment to customer-focused government…”

“…redevelopment, ecomomic development & financial management experience…”

“…strong interpersonal & consensus building skills…”

“…(commitment to) team/participative management…”

“…(experience in) personnel management…”

“…(experience in) intergovernmental relations…”

“…(experience in) utility management…”

“…considerable community involvement & working with volunteers…”

“…knowledge of new technology…”

“…skills/knowledge involving (state) laws…”

“…understanding of public financing…”

“…grant writing (skills)…”

“…conservative fiscal management…”

“…infrastructure replacement & development (experience)…”

“…human resource development…”

“…strategic & long-range planning…”

“…knowledge of principles & management of city government…”

“…capacity to address problems in proactive manner…”

Wake Up People!

We must be picky in what we choose to focus on for our town. Just because keywords and characteristics are suggested by an international governmental organization doesn’t mean we must follow blindly and depend upon them. They provide a starting point, but we need to focus on Lake Park and where we’ve been and what we have had in the past (some from this list) that didn’t work/aren’t working and use the knowledge and understanding of who we are to define our own keywords and characteristics to attract a successful town manager.

The ICMA boasts that it is the “premiere organization of professional local government leaders building sustainable communities to improve lives worldwide”. Come on. Wake up, people. Forget the sustainable part for a minute. Does the premise even make sense? An international organization that knows what’s best for our little hometown? That should set the hair on the back of your neck standing straight up. They have a reason for having our town in their pocket and on a their leash. This is something we need to inform ourselves about. In the meantime, let’s take the reins and run our own town ourselves in a way that suits our decidedly American desires and values. Let’s encourage our leaders to lead for US and not to bow to an international association who clearly has it’s own plans and intentions for who we will become.

Let’s not be ICMA clones. We have had a Town Manager who followed the professional governmental organization playbook and others’ progressive philosophies, and it has been a failure. Once you know what some of the keywords mean and the role they play in progressive policy, you can spot the plants and the leadings quite easily and you can see where our previous town manager followed that lead to a “T”. The “iffy” keywords are sandwiched in between rational and normal common sense suggestions so you gloss over their sweet sounding intonations. Read carefully. From the list above: Do you know the role of “redevelopment” (think CRA and sustainable development), “consensus” (a push to get along and force agreement between commissioners on certain issues without a true vote. It’s a sort of peer pressure tactic to funnel things in a certain direction for the sake of “moving forward” toward the consensus leader’s desired end.), “labor and contract negotiation” (the heavy and powerful hand of the union) and community 8c economic development (sustainable development?)? And what exactly is a “progressive, proactive community-oriented leader”? These are merely some of the items to watch for. What do they mean, what do they lead to? Don’t they all sound so nice?

Sustainable development is one of the biggest things we must inform ourselves about and keep an eye on within these organizations. The governmental organizations are deeply entrenched in it and until you truly understand it, you may be suckered into believing the perpetuated lie that this is just a feel good thing to do and a way to some sort of economic, green lifestyle utopia. It is not. There is way more to it, and if the person who ends up as our town manager has been suckered by it, as I’m afraid most of our commission, as much of our culture has, I am afraid that the direction taken will be to our detriment as a community, and more importantly a detriment to us as individuals. Please see previous posts on Sustainable Development on this blog, such as What is Considered UNsustainable? You can do a search for Sustainable Development in the search bar at the top right of the blog for more past discussions of this if you are interested. We will continue to shine light on this in the future as well.

We need to carefully consider and direct our commission as to the type of leader we need and want this evening. It’s a matter of the direction of our future.

I hope you will attend tonight at 7:30 at town hall and let them know your thoughts.

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