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Need for Transparency and Early Public Engagement -- City Manager Search Process

From: domainremoved <Lynne>
Date: Fri, 8 Feb 2019 16:03:55 -0800

Hello Council,

The City Manager search process needs transparency and meaningful ways for
residents, small business owners, staff and other stakeholders to give
early and later input into the process. We’ve received no recent update
regarding the search’s current status. Our formal opportunities to give
input have also been limited to public comment periods before four
closed-door Council meetings.

Members of the public have also expressed general concerns regarding the
need for a more transparency and inclusive local government in Menlo Park.
The results of the 2017 City Employee Satisfaction survey also show that
staff wants an improved workplace culture where (among other things) they
opportunities to give input into decisions affecting their work.

Instead of what’s been going on, can we establish a more interactive,
timely, inclusive, authentic, transparent and responsive approach? A better
public engagement approach would help to restore lost trust in our local
government. This lost trust is apparent in the public comments made during
meetings and those sent online to Council. A more transparent process –
that reinforced democratic values -- would also lay a foundation for a more
collaborative way that staff, residents and council members can work
together.

We could also build-in some opportunities to work on synergistic goals,
such as collecting input related to updated mission and values statements
and developing a vision statement.

City Manager Search Process to Date -- Major Milestones

· Sep 24, 2018 – Alex D. McIntyre announces his resignation

· Oct 2018 – RFP process starts to select search firm.

· Oct 29, 2018 – Council appoints Starla Jerome-Robinson as Interim
City Manager

· Dec 18, 2018 – Closed door Council meeting: related to City
Manager search

· Dec 20, 2018 –Peckham & McKenney Inc. selected to conduct search

· Jan 8, 2019 – Closed door Council meeting, City Manager search.

· Jan 15, 2019 – Closed door Council meeting, City Manager search

· Feb 6, 2019 – Closed door Council meeting, City Manager search

A New Public Engagement Process (DRAFT)

For now, I suggest the below ideas.

1. Establish a City Manager Search Transparency Portal Page. Add
process, timeline, key documents, current job description.

2. Community Input Meetings. Design, promote and hold at least two
public meetings, possibly more. (The focus for the meetings could evolve,
such as having participants at later meetings be asked to
validate/shape/prioritize prior input.) Ask location leaders and
stakeholders to help recruit participants and to serve as small group
facilitators. Vary meeting times and days. Anyone welcome policy.

a. District 1: Onetta Harris Center (ask Belle Haven Neighborhood
Association, local non-profits and local schools to help recruit for
meeting)

b. District 2: Veterans Association –

c. District 3: Chamber of Commerce (ask President to help recruit
small business owners including those in other commercial areas in MP)

d. District 4: Hillview Middle School (ask school officials to recruit
from their PTA, teachers, parents, and other local schools)

e. District 5: TBD

3. Community Input Meeting format:

a. Ask participants to arrive prepared and detail what that looks
like.

b. 0-5– Refreshments, introduce search-firm recruiters. Give brief
orientation.

c. 6-20 -- Small group introductions. Participants asked to
individually fill-in-the-blanks on six leadership statements (idea mostly
taken directly from a recent news article on the City of Columbia,
Missouri’s approach)

· It is critical that the new city manager possesses (blank) as a
leadership quality.

· Menlo Park would be well-served if the new city manager introduced or
embraced (blank) in the community.

· The new city manager should definitely have experience managing (blank).

· The new city manager should be able to easily navigate (blank) as part
of their duties.

· It is important for the new city manager to understand (blank) about
Menlo Park.

· The new city manager should not underestimate the importance of (blank)
to the community.

d. 21-50 -- Small group sharing of answers with scribe recording.
Establish prioritization process. Groups that finish early could be given
another small, related task such as being asked to rate three different job
descriptions, including the current one and two “best practices” from other
cities.

e. 51-70 – Recruiters share planned next process steps and what will
be done with the public’s input. Participants invited to share their
additional ideas, especially related to the public engagement process.

f. 71-90 minutes – buffer time

Design additional public engagement approaches, such as:

1. At their next meeting, have MP Advisory Committees/Commissions also
answer the six questions and invite the public attending to do so too. Have
a “Community Conversation” segment built into the agenda, for a more
interactive session within the spirit and law of the Brown Act.

2. Improve approaches in an iterative way.

These two resources for even more: Strengthening and Sustaining Public
Engagement
<https://www.publicagenda.org/pages/strengthening-and-sustaining-public-engagement-guide>:
A Planning Guide for Communities and NCDDs Resource Guide on Public
Engagement. <http://www.ncdd.org/files/NCDD2010_Resource_Guide.pdf>

Please let me know how I may be of help.

Lynne Bramlett
Received on Fri Feb 08 2019 - 16:00:52 PST

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