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Some Questions to Support Growth in Morgantown Municipal Governance

March 13, 2013

We are products of our expectations not our environment. Wes Moore


The most important office of government is citizen! Justice Louis Brandeis, 1856-1941 Government is what we do together. Jenifer Pelkirk, Code for America Partisan, interest group politicking has clogged up decision-making processes at all levels of government. The status quo of government is unsustainableThe public sector requires more structural changes and a clearer sense of societal prioritiesExpert rule is giving way to shared governancecivic participation is on the rise. Matt Leighninger of the Deliberative Democracy Consortium When it is time to leave a school or a job or the planet, make sure it will matter that you were here. - Wes Moore, NLC, Boston, 2012

A. Four Elements in Local Government: Citizenry Council Staff Volunteers B. Some Governance Questions Relating to All

(Stool Color Codes:) Green Sharing primary place of living Red Interest; Service orientation Yellow Skills, experience White Shared vision, mission

1. How does City Council provide leadership to help all elements to be in partnership and on the same page regarding a vision and mission for Morgantown? C. Some Governance Questions Relating to Volunteers 1. Should City Council utilize volunteer boards, commissions and authorities more in making policy decisions? 2. Should City Council assign more matters to various boards, commissions and authorities for recommendations? 3. When plans are brought to City Council for approval and implementation (by Planning Commission, Transit Authority, Traffic Commission, Pedestrian Safety Board, Bicycle Board, Rental Housing Advisory Committee, etc.), should Council take deliberate action to follow-up incrementally on the implementation of the plans or to request amendments or options/alternatives? 4. Should the City Council ask the Green Team to recommend ways to reduce short term and long term budget deficits? 5. Should City Council set standards for the orientation of new volunteers by staff or by boards, commissions and authorities themselves? 6. Should some boards, commissions and authorities be given more prominent placement and recognition while others are not?

D. Some Governance Questions Relating to Staff 1. It is said that staff relate to the people they serve in the same manner as they are treated by the employing organization. If City departments operate with command and control environments, would it not difficult for employees to interact democratically with citizens? 2. How are staff trained to be inter-departmentally and team oriented as well as volunteer sensitive and citizen responsive? 3. If public employees do not feel themselves able to make recommendations for changes, will they resist suggestions made by citizens? 4. How can staff and departments have stronger relationships with groups of citizens and have a clearer, more gratifying sense of who their constituents are? 5. How can staff be/motivated in making recommendations on cost reductions and reductions in environmental impacts to make the City both more efficient and more livable/sustainable? E. Some Governance Questions to Relating to Council 1. What kind of leadership does Council provide for the Citizens? Does it provide missionand plan-oriented leadership and research-based service or does it primarily respond to issues as they arise? 2. How does Council work to provide functional relationships among its members? 3. How does City Council plan to increase participation and transparency in City governance in Morgantown? 4. How does Council keep up with best practices in USA cities which may have applicability to serving the immediate and long term needs of the City? 5. Should City Council send a representative consistently to participate comprehensively in the National League of Cities and in the WV Municipal League? 6. Should City Council state a vision and mission for itself along with annual goals and objectives? 7. Should City Council have an annual retreat to discuss issues and set a direction with the support of a facilitator as do many corporate structures? 8. Could City Council have a policy on public participation which creates more space for citizens, builds skills and capacity, and improves public decision-making and problem solving? F. Some Governance Questions Relating to Citizens 1. Do Morgantown citizens favor having a few elected leaders making most of the decisions or does it want sustained levels of information dissemination with opportunities for participation and for every voice to be heard? 2. It is not sufficient to say government cannot solve all our problems. Questions always remain such as 1) how can citizens help the institution of City government continue to reinvent itself, and 2) how can citizens and community organizations provide public employees with the help, advice, and support to enable new kinds of problem-solving? 3. Do citizens want more on-line opportunities for participation, neighborhood links, access to citizen education programs, and paying of bills (etc.)?