Wednesday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of 43. Sunrise is 6:56 and sunset 4:26 for 9h 29m 52s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 75.1% of its visible disk illuminated.
On this day in 1963, President Kennedy is assassinated and Texas Governor John Connally is seriously wounded by Lee Harvey Oswald, who also kills Dallas Police officer J. D. Tippit after fleeing the scene. Vice President Johnson is sworn in as the 36th President of the United States afterward.
Yesterday, I linked to the agenda of the Whitewater Common Council session for 11.21.23. In that Tuesday post, this libertarian blogger listed several agenda items that drew my particular interest. Today’s post will consider one of those items, No. 27. Embedded above is a video recording of the session, with the discussion of Item 27 beginning on the video at 2:14:30.
Here is Item 27:
Item 27. Discussion and possible action regarding the formation of a council action plan to address Common Council self-governance- Common Council/HR
At the 11.7.23 session of the Whitewater Common Council — only two weeks earlier — the performance of the council majority had fallen so far that after returning from closed session the council issued the following statement:
At this time, the Council wishes to make the following statement:
The Council is respectful that each individual councilmember has distinct, competing, and divergent viewpoints designed to promote the best interests of the city and representation of the community.
The Council intends to work on a plan to enhance the effectiveness of the Council as a body and as that body works with the employees of the city. The Council is committed to Robert’s Rules as a guideline and the city’s Transparency Ordinance.
The Council will explore and conduct training as to governance, conduct of meetings, and open meeting compliance, and encourage appointed office holders to participate in such opportunities.
The Council will explore standards of decorum and civility for its meetings.
The Council will work with the City Manager for the development of an onboarding process for newly elected and appointed office holders. The Council will set expectations for self-accountability, individual commitment to one another.
The Council will consider whether the use of outside resources is of benefit to this process including resources from CVMIC, and the executive branch of the city, facilitators, or other resources.
The Council’s commitment to this plan is ongoing, which the Council will address at subsequent meetings.
In all recent memory, over decades, no common council in the City of Whitewater has had to admit to performance so inadequate. (Council President Allen did not read the statement; he left it to another councilmember while he sat saying nothing on behalf of the council he leads.)
A few remarks about the discussion of Item 27 from last night’s session:
1. His “Bad.” One would imagine that having listened to the early November statement, Allen would remember its significance only two weeks later. One would imagine that an agenda item on 11.21 that plainly reads “Discussion and possible action” would cause Allen to prepare for discussion and possible action. Apparently not.
Instead, Allen tried to push on without discussion to Item 28. When he was reminded that he was skipping an item that directly addresses this council’s self-governance, Allen replied “My bad.” See video at 2:15:46.
Yes, his bad. A responsible leader would have remembered this item, prepared for it, and made it a key part of this meeting.
2. The Handouts on Robert’s Rules. It’s a commendable service to this city that HR Manager Sara Marquardt ordered and distributed laminated handouts with key points from Robert’s Rules. She was right to do so. These councilmembers should have made this purchase on their own when they first joined the Whitewater Common Council. (It’s obvious that some of the council members understand these procedural rules quite well, indeed. It’s equally obvious that the majority does not.)
3. “We Could Probably.” When considering the necessary and fundamental work of self-governance, Allen expressed a few qualms:
We could probably do some of them over the winter break, but you know, we all have other jobs too.
See video at 2:19:53.
Councilmembership is a volunteer position; no one is drafted. If the crucial responsibility of self-governance is too hard for Allen or others, then they should resign from the Whitewater Common Council.
Allen has a habit of looking for the easy road for himself and his majority. In August, when Allen learned that he, along with others, would have to meet a proper deadline for submitting his agenda items before a meeting, his first reflex was to make it easier on himself: “Oh, well, then I guess we’ll have to change that because that’s we’ve never enforced it before.” See Scenes from a Council Meeting (Responsibility).
By contrast, Whitewater’s residents fortunately show an admirable commitment to self-discipline and hard work that this council majority lacks.