Tuesday, November 17, 2009

November 17, 2009

The Last Blog - Shifting Gears

I've been getting discreet but increasing pressure from parties not to be named, to either blog weekly or do something else. I agree. Clearly it's time for a change...

What's been happening is that, over the past several months, I have been trying to concentrate my attention on issues, projects, problems that count the most. Also I've been trying to carve out time for the personal side of my life, which has been playing second fiddle to being Mayor for a good portion of my first year in office.

So I'm going to change the blog to a collection of "op-ed" type pieces that appear roughly once a month or so. And I will comment more on current topics rather than a pot pourri of 'life as Mayor'. This will be an experiment because talking about work in process may get tricky. Sometimes good ideas need a lot of nurturing before they're ready to appear in public and, as I knew when I took office, being part of the workings of City government on a day-by-day basis entails becoming more susceptible to that inside world. Personal relationships are established that must be respected. Ideas are shared, possibilities proposed, misconceptions revealed, etc. that are preliminary to actual action. I haven't found a way yet of communicating about these things and may never do so. But I am going to try to 'talk' about what I'm focusing on and try to give a flavor of how I experience it.

So enough abstractions. Tonight, as I write this, I'm mixing watching the Blazers play Charlotte and the Oregon football team vs Arizona State, with reading through a voluminous summary of the public feedback on the Council's goals from last April's goal-setting session. At that session I held back my own suggestions so that the Council would frame, and therefore own, its own goals. They are the policy makers, after all. But this year I want to chime in more. I also want to see how much I agree with the public input and whether or not there are some ideas I can incorporate in my suggestions to the Council.

I also wrote a note to the Council this evening, with some suggestions about how I run/facilitate the Council meetings. I've been sticking to Robert's Rules so far but would like to have the Councilors talk to me about our process 'on the fly', i.e. in the course of our discussions. Up to now I've tried to preserve the train of thought of a discussion and not allowed interruptions but sometimes the Council may be ready to vote, or may want to set one discussion aside until the next meeting so that we can move on to another topic and I want to loosen up our protocol so they can simply interrupt and not have to resort to Robert's level formality. We'll see how they respond to my suggestions.

And, in the back of my mind tonight as I head to bed (assuming I don't fall into the grips of an Independent Film Channel offering) is the Economic Development planning process that kicks off this week and will run for about 8 months or so. It could be one of the most important things your City government does during my term of office and I really want it to have substance and make a difference. This will require doing a lot more than going through the motions. Yet going through the motions, however smoothly, is what you can easily get when you put a bunch of very busy, creative people together to work on a very complex and important task with a limited amount of time. More on this in a later piece.

In the meantime, have a nice Thanksgiving. Jane and I will be in the Bay Area with our daughters, our son-in-law, our seven year old grandson and his 18 month old twin sisters. They're on my mind too tonight, and I'm smiling. Check out this picture that arrived today.