Planning to fail

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lead_largeIt was Ben Franklin who warned us that “Failure to plan, is planning to fail.” I’ve spent a lot of time over the past few years wondering why Doug and Enzo are so resistant to planning. Most people who have worked in any type of organization take some comfort in knowing there is a plan, and that everyone is pulling in the same direction.

It’s been a big mystery until recently, but I think I understand now. The revelation came over the course of the week or so in which the Tribune reported on the condition of the bathrooms in Packard Park, (stock photo used here) followed a few days later by a letter to the editor about the lack of visible crosswalks near the schools.

It only occurred to me then that Doug and Enzo have no priorities. Every problem in the city is like every other problem. No crosswalks is on a par with a broken street light in a quiet neighborhood. No bathrooms in the park is like a forgotten garbage pick up someplace.

I think most citizens would have an easy time prioritizing these issues. Of course the goal should be to do all of them well, but the priority should be to do the most important first.

Without priorities it’s nearly impossible to make a plan. Priority precedes planning.

However, the priorities of our city government should not be based on the opinions of just one or two people. We need to find consensus among a broad range of our citizens, and that will be my first goal if elected — to find that consensus. This is why I have pledged to communicate in a pro-active fashion with the city.

I certainly have opinions of my own, but I feel it is the mayor’s job to convince you that those priorities are the right ones before spending your money on them. If we had done that during the past four years we could have avoided wasting millions on bad contracts and solving other people’s problems.

Here is what I mean by priorities — using the city’s operations department as an example. They have been reduced in size from nearly 100 people some years ago, to roughly 30 people today. This is not enough people to fix every pot hole, cut the lawn at every vacant house and perform every task someone thinks should be performed. Therefore, setting priorities is critical.

If elected, I will try to find consensus around the following priorities:

  • Every city park should look its best and have functioning, clean bathrooms
  • The immediate area around the five Warren City Schools and JFK should be clean and have freshly painted crosswalks.
  • The area around Courthouse Square, and a minimum one-block radius around it, should be clean year round; the sidewalks and street clear of snow and snow piles in winter and the streets swept clean regularly.
  • The major gateway streets should be treated similarly to downtown; kept clear and clean at all times. Gateway streets are Youngstown Road, Market Street (East & West), Elm Road and Parkman Road.

These are my priorities because these are the parts of town used by the greatest number of our citizens, or are seen by the most visitors, which affects our image and our prospects for growth. But if enough people disagree with them then we will set different  priorities. The whole point of this exercise is to identify a list on which we can agree.

Without a list of priorities, which might also be called “goals,” how can elected officials be held accountable? How can you know if they’ve done the job you elected them to do?

We can do better.

Posted Thursday, September 24th, 2015 under Blight, Budget, Warren strategic plan.

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