By Herb Perez
January is the month in which many set resolutions to be acted upon in the coming year. Too often these end up burning bright and then fizzling in February. In my personal, professional and city roles, I choose not to make resolutions but I create a series of goals that are time-sensitive, demonstrable and measurable. Today, our City Council will hold a policy meeting to set its priorities. These will be manifested in the 2014 policy calendar.
Our council is under new leadership with Mayor Charles Bronitsky and has a new member as well. This dynamic has brought a new and streamlined process to matters that come before us and has altered in part the priorities of city staff.
Our residents and citizens have enjoyed accessibility to our councilmembers. This has created a culture of accountability. Each of us reaches out into the community to meet with business, residents and daytime visitors to hear their concerns and issues. In many cases, these issues end up on our agenda as policy discussions and action items. In select instances, we change the ordinance structure to address and correct these issues. In this next year, we will revisit issues brought to us by residents including hedge restrictions, signage for commercial entities, the nonsmoking initiative and the state of city codes and attendant ordinances.
It is often opined that government moves slowly. I disagree; people move slowly and government chooses to acquiesce. In the spirit of progress, I believe our council has chosen to address issues on a priority basis and enact proactive solutions. To achieve this goal, we must adopt aggressive timelines with fully-funded action plans that provide solutions and staffing to accomplish our desired goals and outcomes. These goals must be clearly articulated and need to be attached to a time-sensitive schedule and action plan.
Time is of the essence. A goal that is not attached to a date certain becomes a lesser priority and may never be reached or accomplished. There must be a sense of urgency, perceived or actual and staff and policy makers must act in accordance. In this way, tasks little or small will be agendized and treated with the requisite amount of importance so that the proverbial ball can be moved down the field.
It is self-evident that no goal can be achieved without an effective plan of action, which is created by city staff in consultation, and ultimately acceptance of the City Council. It is the sole responsibility of city staff to create and enact such a plan. Likewise, it is the responsibility of policy makers to remain attentive and diligent regarding the timeline, deliverables, implementation and ultimate execution of the action plan.
The council has been entrusted by the citizenry to safeguard our quality of life. Thus, as part of a team, along with city staff, we must ensure that we provide staff with clear, concise and direct policy direction along with the resources necessary to maintain and improve our city’s economic and social sustainability.
Neither staff nor the council can perform its duty without the other. Each entity depends on the other for its viability, performance and its ultimate success or failure. In pre-Socratic philosophical thought, the whole of any one thing is considered a balance of opposites, hence without light, one could not know darkness. Each co-exists and defines the other and is part of a greater whole. But perhaps more importantly, they serve a common purpose and are useful in of their own rights. Just as there is no clear line when there is light or darkness, in some cases there is no clear line in government. We work together as part of a team to the betterment of the whole, and ultimately the city.
Our citizens and residents hold us accountable through an election process. Each councilmember values the trust and ultimate great responsibility leveled upon our shoulders. We remain committed and determined to be held accountable for the decisions and actions we take in our roles as policy makers. It is our responsibility and furtherance of our cause to hold our staff responsible and ultimately accountable as part as our accountability to our citizens. Our citizens expect no less. Nor can we.
Herb Perez is a member of the Foster City Council. He can be reached at 468-3143 and firstname.lastname@example.org.