City Council Axioms…
1. Your position and vote is easy to come by, the second vote can be harder to come by, and the third vote can really be a challenge.
2. The most important relationships you can develop are the ones with other City Councilors.
3. For every issue or controversy, there are at least two sides to the issues (and usually more).
4. There is never enough money in the budget, so some things will just have to wait.
5. The primary source of revenues for the City is sales taxes.
6. Only three City staff members report directly to the Council:
City Manager, City Attorney and Municipal Judge. All other staff report to their respective department heads, which in turn report to the City Manager.
7. One vote against is a vote of conscience, two votes against is the ‘minority’ opinion, and three votes against signals a ‘change in policy’.
8. Most of City government is behind the scenes: keeping the water running, sewer plant operating, streets maintained, police patrolling, fires fought and City Hall operating for the public.
9. You owe it to the public, the City staff and fellow Councilors to explain your “no” vote.
10. Asking questions can shed more light on issues and debates than broad sweeping statements of position.
11. Many votes will be taken during a 4-year term of a City Councilor. Don’t get emotionally attached to any one vote. There will be another roll call vote on the issue.
12. Remember, the City’s money isn’t yours. Taxpayers and local citizens paid it. Budget it wisely.
13. The public comment at a public hearing is only part of the process. Municipal code, state law, due process, legal counsel, City staff reports and good judgment make up the rest of the decision making process.
14. You can talk too much and never listen enough.
15. The City staff members are professionals. Their assistance, advice, insight and perspective are invaluable.
(c) 2008, Jasper Welch, Four Corners Media, www.jasperwelch.org