More Executive Session – Secrets

by:  Diane Benjamin

The minutes of the Executive Session held during the retreat last November offer interesting insight into what Bloomington’s Mayor, City Manager and Alderman are thinking.  Remember, this was a secret meeting.  Usually the Council votes to keep these minutes a secret because they don’t want you to know what they say.  See this post from yesterday:  https://blnnews.com/2014/06/04/absolute-proof-judy-stearns-was-right/

From page 1 of the minutes:

Mr. Hales recommended that the Council review the handout first which provided background information. He cited his recent attendance at the ICMA (International City Manager’s Association) Conference. The critical reality facing the City was flat and/or declining revenues. He noted the City’s past growth which resulted in revenue and personnel increases. In addition, there was the fact that costs, (for commodities and/or services), had continued to increase. Societal change was constant. The private sector was quick to change. There needed to be a new set of values, principals and management. Employees needed to be innovative, creative, and adaptable in order to keep up with the change. Service provision needed to be cost effective and efficient.

Note Hales is promoting what he learned at the INTERNATIONAL City Manager’s Association Conference.  He will likely be attending again this year.  You are paying for his INTERNATIONAL training.  Hales almost sounds like a conservative.  He sounds like belts have to be tightened, employees have to work smarter, etc etc.  About 3 months later he proposed a budget with 17 new hires and an increase in the General Fund of $5,747,278.  The new spending came complete with new taxes.

Government uses the excuse that costs have gone up to raise taxes.  They are entitled to more of your money because what they do is costing them more.  Ask your boss for a raise because the prices of beef and pork are way up.  Tell him you need a raise because the gas prices make driving un-affordable and in August the prices will go higher when the new Bloomington gas tax kicks in.  By August Normal will probably have it passed too.  Let me know how that works for you!

Another excerpt from Hales:

This document was initiated by conversations with Council members. He had continued to work on this document. Lynn Montei, Lynn Montei Associates, had provided assistance and acted as a sounding board. Transforming City government would require taking a major step. He believed the City’s future would be best served by a bold, decisive culture change. Culture change would not be quick or easy. At times, resources
would be required. He restated his belief that the City needed a culture change. The benefit of this change was that the City would be in position and poised to move forward.

The culture change was evidently getting rid of some department heads and raising taxes because more money is needed.  It also meant hiring a temporary employee for $85 per hire who is closely aligned with the International City Mangers Association.  What exactly is the City moving forward to?

Maybe this part explains:

The community wanted a high performing organization. The City needed to move towards and demonstrate customer service. There were serious staffing problems. He planned to look outside of the organization for the best innovative and creative practices in both the private and public sector. The goal would be to keep costs low while providing high level quality services. The community wanted high level services. This was a wealthy community that also wanted a variety of services. Citizens have placed a high value on quality of life. They had high expectations and appeared willing to pay for these services. The City had benefited from community employers such as State Farm, Country Financial and the universities.

Wealthy community?  Maybe part of the City, but the community?  When did the citizens place a high value on quality of life?  When they voted NO on the Coliseum?  Are the citizens pushing quality of life, or is the City?

Hales then claims:  The model would be the Baldridge Performance Excellence model.  What is the Baldridge model?

From their website:  http://www.nist.gov/baldrige/publications/criteria.cfm

GLOBALLY

About 100 performance or business excellence programs exist around the globe. Most use the Baldrige Criteria or criteria based on Baldrige as their performance excellence models.

The Baldrige Program is a member of the Global Excellence Model (GEM) Council, made up of the chief executives of national excellence models and award programs from around the world.

Are you seeing a pattern yet?  INTERNATIONAL City Managers Association, GLOBAL Excellence Council

(I’m sure it’s nothing to worry about though.)

The complete minutes can be read here:  11-15-13 Closed Meeting Minutes

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