City management requested $105,000 in the 2016 budget for communications consultation.
To the Editor:
City management requested $105,000 in the 2016 budget for communications consultation. It seems reasonable to expect that a competent city manager making $210,000 a year with bonuses, along with a well-funded Community Affairs Department and a director of communications, should be perfectly capable of exercising effective communication with residents.
But beyond what I see as an unnecessary budget item, I contend that the current community discord is not the result of a communication problem, but rather an administrative cultural problem that communications consultation will not fix.
Over the last year, there have been a number of highly contentious initiatives put forth by this administration that were ultimately rejected by the community. Two issues, the continuing efforts to outsource the community's 911 dispatching service and the unwanted and outlandishly expensive redevelopment of Northam Park, are still very much at issue.
Controlling who is allowed at the table for planning, revealing plans to the community already as whole cloth and offering only talking points and empty rhetoric to specific questions and issues raised by residents are but some of the behavioral indications of this cultural problem.
As noted in many citizen letters to the editor over the last year, what city government needs is real, broad-based community involvement from the outset of any planning process; honest and fact-based responses to resident questions and concerns; and, ultimately, plans and projects that are a direct reflection of what the community, not the administration, wants for the city.
So again, it's not a communication problem that confronts this community. It's the culture of how this administration operates, largely in disregard of the interests and wishes of the community that pays their extremely generous salaries.
This cultural problem needs a cure, but a $105,000 communications consulting budget is the wrong medicine.