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Thread: Adventures of... Government Study

  1. #1
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    Adventures of... Government Study

    I know, I know, I had friends that warned me not to do this but last ballot I put my name in for the Study Commission of my town. I think I was just as surprised as they when I was elected for it!

    What I am doing:

    Looking at the form and function of the city government(Organization, not people )

    Why am I doing this:

    Current powers of my city government are restricted to state constitution(general government powers), if it doesn't say it in the statutes the Council cannot do it. (No local power co-ops for example) I will, with the help of two others see if we need to expand on the current powers and develop a Charter to set limits on those powers(self-government powers) or see if an organizational change is needed. Currently we are Commission Executive form, we will be reviewing this to see if we need the addition of a City Manager to help the Mayor with his department heads.


    Should be an interesting experience, we have our first organizational meeting tonight to set up ground rules and focus. As we continue I'll try and keep posting anything interesting we go through.
    It's not the love of a hero, that's why I fear it won't do
    Chad Kroeger

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    Re: Adventures of... Government Study

    This is weirdly awesome to me... please do keep us/me posted! And congrats on the election!

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    Re: Adventures of... Government Study

    ohh cool, how big of a city are you living in and where in Montana.
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    Re: Adventures of... Government Study

    Quote Originally Posted by Maxwell View Post
    This is weirdly awesome to me... please do keep us/me posted! And congrats on the election!
    Will do, part of the process is having open communication with the people who elected me, as such I don't mind and encourage comments here, just keep in mind I have to focus on what the town thinks needs to be fixed vice what might look good to fix from an outside viewpoint.

    The commissioners by themselves do not have power to change the government they are studying, but together they are able to place issues on the next ballot for the city to vote on as well as make recommendations to the government they are studying as well. One sad thing is our county did not elect to have a study done so we are only able to really focus on city issues and not combined city/county issues.

    Quote Originally Posted by shiva View Post
    ohh cool, how big of a city are you living in and where in Montana.
    Current population is 9.9k, the city is home to a University and a large rail road complex. Mainly small business with a couple larger national business's mixed in. Havre, MT
    It's not the love of a hero, that's why I fear it won't do
    Chad Kroeger

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    Re: Adventures of... Government Study

    First meeting out of the way last night. Spent some time reviewing the funds we had available along with a simple budget. After which we settled on ground rules on running future meetings. Both my fellow commissioners were comfortable, and familiar with Roberts Rules of Order but unfamiliar with any alternatives. Partly my own fault but I did not have enough time to look up specifics for Democratic Rules of Order, CONSENSUS PROCESS, DYNAMIC FACILITATION, I tried to make an argument for at least looking at Democratic Rules of Order based on the fact that it would put all members on equal footing vice Roberts Rules that can enable persons with intimate knowledge of them to bend the conversation to their favor. The vote was unanimous for Roberts rules for future meetings and the rest of the meeting currently held.

    Sticking point came when we discussed limits on public speaking when not in a formal public input setting. First motion went for no time limits on public input on agenda items. I did vote against this but the motion was carried. After which I put a motion to limit public comment on agenda items to before the agenda was discussed by the commission as well as allowing public comment after all agenda items were decided on(basically comments on non agenda items). Motion was carried unanimously. So basically we allow people to come in and talk forever before we discuss agenda items and after we are done with the meeting.

    Pretty dry stuff but allowed us to set up our next meeting this next Monday to develop a timeline for actions to take regarding both town and city government input.
    It's not the love of a hero, that's why I fear it won't do
    Chad Kroeger

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    Re: Adventures of... Government Study

    I'm not fully familiar with Democratic Rules of Order, but I can say from experience that Consensus Process & Dynamic Governance can make for some LOOOONG meetings. When it's up to me, I prefer Roberts for general meetings and Consensus/Dynamic for committee meetings.

    Unlimited time for public comments... good luck with that!!



  7. #7
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    Re: Adventures of... Government Study

    Quote Originally Posted by FourOh View Post
    Unlimited time for public comments... good luck with that!!
    Currently our City Council limits comments to 3 mins, recent years it has been lax with enforcement as long as the individual was on topic. A few years ago the then mayor got tired of going round and round with one individual so he carried an egg timer with him, when it ran out you were done...lol.

    As far as the no limits I have reservations but I doubt they will be realized. It will take movement of heaven and earth for us to get consistent public participation due to the lack of public knowledge of the process we are undertaking. I am the unofficial community engagement volunteer so I will do my best to go around and get some info from local organizations first (Civic organizations, Chamber of Commerce, Student government classes), first to get a feel what the town wants, and secondly to get them talking about it.

    The main issue being the majority opinion of the city is we are going to remove people from government or do replacements. It will take a major commitment of time and energy to get the correct information out and to get people to come to us with suggestions either in person or via some sort of medium.
    It's not the love of a hero, that's why I fear it won't do
    Chad Kroeger

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    Re: Adventures of... Government Study

    I'm on my third term on the city council this time around. I was on the council about 25 years ago for about 3 terms. This is a smaller town (about 1000) but we do have a few things going our way. We have a highly active medical center in town with 5 Dr's. It will be interesting to see what happens.
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  9. #9
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    Re: Adventures of... Government Study

    Quote Originally Posted by shiva View Post
    I'm on my third term on the city council this time around. I was on the council about 25 years ago for about 3 terms. This is a smaller town (about 1000) but we do have a few things going our way. We have a highly active medical center in town with 5 Dr's. It will be interesting to see what happens.
    Unfortunately the issue with smaller towns and cities is the fact you might have term limits on a government position but no one else wants to run, either because of politics or geography.

    Interesting note, Montana puts this question of Government review to both city and county voters every ten years. I believe we are the only state to have it in our constitution from the beginning of state hood. The previous commission put a few recommendation to the council but it took over seven years for the voters to approve just a few of them.

    One of the recommendations was to make the City Council non-partisan. We only approved that ballot issue last year. I cannot tell you how many people were more then willing to run for council or mayor positions but didn't just because the other side would not come to their business when they announced what party they supported.

    Even with the now non-partisan elections you can still see the lines drawn but in the near future I hope those kinks get worked out.
    It's not the love of a hero, that's why I fear it won't do
    Chad Kroeger

  10. #10
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    Re: Adventures of... Government Study

    Sorry I've not been updating, the commission has had two more meetings in regards to meeting with various public entities as well as the city departments. We are also setting up a listserv with the various commissions around the state as well as our own website to help the citizens get the info they need.

    On related news I've been sitting in on various public meetings around town trying to get a gauge of what people are looking to do around town and what issues they believe the city government needs to address. The first was a group of individuals looking to improve park and trails around the town. I was interested due to the fact they were in the beginning stages of organization so was looking at what issues they would be dealing with as they set up compared to what our own.

    The second meeting was over a group of citizens looking to allow the raising of chickens within the city limits. Currently the city does not allow them. It was interesting to see how they were comparing the various ordinances from the surrounding area as well as how they intending to present their case to the ordinance committee. The funny thing the ordinance committee chair is ex officio of the Local Government Review Commission. Small world that.
    It's not the love of a hero, that's why I fear it won't do
    Chad Kroeger

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