The election was more than a month ago. Council was sworn in almost two weeks ago. Like the other members of council, I'm sure, I'm getting anxious to get to the real work.
That's part of the problem of changing councils - it takes time for people in new jobs to learn the basics, and in this case, it's going to take some time before we understand the extent of some of the problems that we have to deal with. And even when we know that we want to change how things are done, first we have to get a good understanding of the whole situation before we start to implement change, to avoid unpleasant surprises.
To that end, at our first council meeting, after all the ceremonial stuff was out of the way, the deputy mayor schedule was set, and appointments to just three committees were made. The first two, the police commission and the library board, have to be in place for those institutions to function. On a temporary basis, Councillors Ring and Zurakowski have been appointed to the library board, and, also on a temporary basis, the mayor and Councillor Ring will continue on the police commission.
A third committee, the management committee, has also been set up. This committee is intended to bring policy options and recommendations to council for discussion and final decisions, with a fairly broad scope - a first filter, in a way. I'm currently on this committee, as is the mayor and Councillor Cody. For example, one of the things that we're looking at is the current list of committees to see which are actually needed, and which can be dissolved. The previous council had more than 60 committees, some of which met rarely if ever, and some of which duplicated work already covered by policy (the street-naming committee, for example). I'm hoping that this review will help council to manage our work load more efficiently, although it's certainly going to take some time. So far the management committee has met twice, trying to determine which issues are most pressing, and setting some priorities for bringing them forward to council.
I think what most members of council (and the public) want to know is: where are we at on several issues? What's the status of the second bridge study? What's the status of the water treatment plant repairs? When is the bridge going to be at full capacity again? How serious is our financial situation?
I think that, as a council, we're committed to getting answers to these and other questions to the public as quickly as possible. This is definitely a change in how things were done in the past, but it's one that we're all working towards. However, like a lot of change, it could take some time. I hope that residents see that we're working together to provide answers, not cover things up, and are patient as we work these things through.
"Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future." - John F. Kennedy