This afternoon I participated in a City-convened video meeting about the restructuring of Boards & Commissions. Once again, almost everyone who spoke up was very unhappy with the proposed redesign, and they were all people who’ve devoted countless volunteer hours to serving our city. Once again, the process resulted in… what?
Will the city heed the input and put a halt to this half-baked and ill-conceived proposal? Will it do its due diligence, as it should have from the start, by surveying everyone who’s ever served on a board or commission to get their views about what works and what doesn’t? Will they let go of the ridiculous notion that four or five overarching categories will meaningfully capture the work that needs to be done for our city, and adequately invite and facilitate the participation of a meaningful spectrum of our residents?
This restructuring needs to be put on pause. Council needs to direct staff to *start over* with this process. We need to know:
- what works and what doesn’t
- where the bottlenecks are
- why some recommendations never get to Council
- who isn’t being included and heard from, and why.
Some people actually tried to change the purpose of this “working group” meeting while it was in progress—tried to make it a working group about working groups. NO. This was about the whole question of restructuring, how it should be done, why, and for whom. Friends, this is OUR CITY, and it should be listening to and serving US. It should be enabling and encouraging our participation on boards and commissions, and then acting on the recommendations of the people who are engaging in that process.
Can the organization and function of Asheville’s Boards & Commissions be improved? No doubt. But not the way this has been approached so far. And I’m not persuaded that city staff or the facilitator truly heard the resounding “do better!” from participants.
Please note that this video ends prematurely, conveniently omitting the feedback from those of us who said this process needs to be put on hold and reconceived from the ground up. I actually had the last word on the subject, but you wouldn’t know it from this video.