Daily Bread for 11.17.23: Micromanaging the City of Whitewater’s Human Resources Work

 Good morning.

Friday in Whitewater will be partly sunny with a high of 56. Sunrise is 6:50 and sunset 4:29 for 9h 39m 38s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 19.9% of its visible disk illuminated.

  On this day in 1869, the Suez Canal, linking the Mediterranean Sea with the Red Sea, is inaugurated.

Embedded above is a video recording of the Whitewater Common Council’s 11.7.23 session.  

At that session on 11.7.23, the council in Items 28 considered “Discussion and possible action regarding the compensation survey – Gerber/HR.” The discussion, such as it was, begins at 1:28:41 on the video. The city’s HR Manager Sara Marquardt and Councilmember Jill Gerber are the principal interlocutors. 

A few remarks: 

Assignments. Many years ago, a conservative councilmember rebuked a colleague for expecting that individual members have the authority to assign work or projects to city staff. That conservative councilmember was right — it’s a collective body, and individual members aren’t empowered that way.  

This Council Majority. In this case —on a council with a majority that has admitted on the record that it requires significant improvement — individual councilmembers would do best to avoid calling around. There is no public verification possible of questions or answers received on phone calls. To whom a councilmember spoke, the precise questions asked, how those questions might have been framed, the complete answers received: none of that is available for public review. 

Note well: this is the only council majority in memory that has had to admit it requires outside guidance on basic functioning that other councils have managed competently. See The Complaint Against (Some) on the Whitewater Common Council

Unlike trained full-time employees of the administration, councilmembers are asking questions without that same training and background. As with Allen calling the League of Municipalities, the actual and important conversation is unknown to the public. See Scenes from a Council Meeting (Representations).

This small-town council’s majority acts as though it’s a Congressional committee, wanting its own lawyer, crusading from the dais, etc. Whitewater is a small town, not a large federal district. 

Questioning. There’s a simple set of tactical rules for questioning someone in a public setting. When the person to be questioned has a hard manner, one may effectively question with a hard or soft manner. When the person to be questioned has a soft manner, one can only effectively question in a soft manner. 

In this discussion, there is no circumstance in which one would sensibly approach this HR manager except in a relaxed, affable manner: no accusations, nothing on the spot, no critical implications, etc. Instead, a skillful questioner would approach in a matter-of-fact, indeed, conciliatory way. Almost playful, truly. Any other approach would redound to the questioner’s disadvantage (as it did here).

A Reminder: Whitewater deserves better from its common council majority; this city is better than its council majority. No one should feel bad about Whitewater because of these few. We are a beautiful city, and our people can do much more than this majority. 

No injuries reported after large rockslide closes hiking trail in Zion National Park:

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New attendee
8 months ago

The Eyes Have It

In the chamber where voices should blend and weave,
One voice rises, with “I”s none can believe.
Twenty-five times, in minutes but three,
Echoing “I,” not “us,” nor “we.”

Yet, beyond these walls, the true “eyes” awake,
The gaze of the town, for their own sake.
Watching and weighing each word, each deed,
Knowing that action is what we truly need.

In the heart of Whitewater, where currents run deep,
The council’s behavior makes the vigilant weep.
For each “I” that’s spoken, a promise falls flat,
But the eyes of the community see more than just that.

These eyes, ever watchful, ever keen,
Seek unity in action, in a town’s vibrant scene.
Saluting the bravery of police, fire, and EMS teams,
Cherishing teachers who nurture young dreams.

Librarians, guardians of wisdom and tale,
Nonprofits striving, so community prevails.
All these heroes, in efforts vast,
Upheld by “We,” both steady and steadfast.

So, dear council, in your hall of debate,
Remember the “eyes,” before it’s too late.
For the city is watching, with hope and with fear,
In the dance of governance, it’s the “we” we hold dear.