Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Weekly Update, September 27 - Oct 1


League of Oregon Cities Conference. Last week, Mayor Stromberg, Councilors Chapman, Jackson, and Silberger, Rob Lloyd, Ann Seltzer, and I all attended the League of Oregon Cities conference in Eugene. The conference is often a good chance to get some training, capture a new idea, and learn about the major issues facing other communities in Oregon. This year's conference was well attended, and there were a variety of sessions on "hot" topics for City officials. For me, there were three main highlights. First, all four Gubenatorial Candidates participated in a debate on Saturday at lunchtime. The League asked all of the candidates to answer five questions that were prepared in advance. Leaving aside any political analysis (which I won't do), it was a chance to see how the two major party and the two minor party candidates define the most pressing issues for our state. It was also a chance to see the approach each candidate would take to Salem and what it might be like to work with each one of them. The second highlight was a brief speech by Governor Kulongoski, who talked about the realities of trying to close a $3 billion shortfall in the state budget. He talked very frankly about public employee benefits and about the problems of PERS. He also talked about his "reset cabinet" (and he'll be in Medford tomorrow to talk about reforms from that effort). This speech was, of course, colored by the reality that Governor Kulongoski will no longer be in office when the 2011 Legislature takes office. The third highlight was the session for the Oregon City/County Manager's Association on the practical nuts and bolts of leading a truly consensus-based process. While this training didn't offer any big revelations about the challenges of true consensus, it was good to practice the skills needed. As always, I come away humbled by the importance of listening more than talking, which many of you know is my personal challenge.

There were many other breakout sessions and useful conversations with collegues, and for all of us who attended, there will be chances to apply the lessons in our every day life.

Weekend Events. There are a couple of events this weekend that you might want to know about. During the First Friday Artwalk, youth volunteers from KSKQ have organized a Zombie Walk to draw attention to the radio station's fall fund raising. The event will involve a group of people dressed as zombies who will shamble from the Evo's parking lot around 5 pm to the plaza where I hear the zombies will perform Michael Jackson's Thiller then shamble back. I imagine that this event will draw some media attention. Saturday morning, Ashland Rotary will host a 5 K and a 10 K. This is the third sport/race event in the past three weeks, and there are several more scheduled for the rest of October.

Hearing on AT&T Cell Tower Appeal. The major item on next Tuesday's Council Meeting is an appeal of the Planning Commission's decision on the AT& Cell Tower. I wanted to give you a couple of reminders about this particular agenda item. First, please come prepared Tuesday night to disclose the substance of any ex-parte contacts you may have received. There has been a lot of press, email, letters to the editor, and organizing around this issue, and it's important that both the appellant and the applicant get a chance to address the substance of any arguments or facts you have heard. Please contact Megan Thornton if you have any questions. Second, Council Rules will require that you conclude the hearing by 9:30 p.m. (which assumes that you have extended the hearing from 9 p.m.), and given the number of people who have submitted written arguments, you may need to continue the hearing to a future meeting. Last, some of the participants in the process have organized a demonstration and parade before the City Council meeting. Councilors should plan a little extra time to get to the Council Chambers prior to your meeting.

All the best.