In the second part of my critique of Collingwood’s woo-hoo strategic plan, I will look at the shuffle game. This is where consultants give contestants – I mean participants – a limited series of options and ask them to shuffle these around in order of their perceived priority. Then the results are collated and the one whose list looks most like the final version wins.
There are five separate lists given to contestants. Think of them as strategic plan bingo cards:
- Accountable Local Government
- Public Access to a Revitalized Waterfront
- Economic Vitality
- Healthy Lifestyle
- Culture and the Arts
Participants get to choose the pre-ordained options as if they were some royal or divine authority they can impose on the town and its residents, without regard to law, custom, policies, past practice, or, in some cases, reality. Each of the five categories is preceded by one or more goals.
Let’s start by looking at the first category: Accountable Local Government. It’s stated goals are:
- Efficient use of Town assets
- Effectively manage Town debt
- Engage in frequent, proactive communication with the public in order to build strong, transparent relationships with public and private groups
- Long-term commitment to implement the CBSP over a 10-15 year horizon
None of these actually relate to accountability. There is nothing about integrity, ethics, or holding politicians to task for not keeping campaign promises. And communication does not “build strong, transparent relationships” as this bit of disinformation would have anyone think. Communication of the sort proposed is merely one-way.
First some prelude to my analysis: councils don’t manage anything: they direct staff to do so. Council’s don’t get hands-on: staff do that. And citizen groups don’t do either, nor do they direct council to direct staff. They, at best, advise. But their advice needs to be based on reality, not on some woo-hoo concept derived from wishful thinking or (in this case), an old ideology we’ve encountered before (see below).
So lets’ look at each “action item” proposed:
ACTION ITEM: Develop an improved Asset Management Plan that takes into account maintenance costs and a funding model for the replacement of assets that have reached the end of their lifecycle. Assets include road, water and wastewater infrastructure in addition to all buildings, recreation facilities, vehicles and equipment owned and maintained by the Town.
This is the first flog-a-dead horse item. Last council directed staff to develop exactly such an asset management plan. Cross this one off the list: we did it already. But one wonders why no one told the participants.
In fact, going through the list below, you’ll see that several of these ‘action items’ were done last term or even previously. Why didn’t anyone involved know that? Obviously this council intends to take credit for last term’s efforts.