I have a feeder that forwards news articles related to government to my e-mail every day. It is not uncommon for me to come across a headline that states ”City Council & Mayor Discuss Strategic Priorities” or ”Town Board Meets for Annual Retreat”. I don’t ever recall reading a similar news headline for the County of Erie, City of Buffalo, Town of Amherst etc.

The Columbia Missouri City Council (population of 108,500), recently held their Annual Retreat where “…council members and city department leaders discussed the city’s strengths and weaknesses and outlined strategic priorities on which the city should focus for the next three years.” “City Manager Mike Matthes arranged for the retreat to focus on strategic planning. He said the city would use information from citizen and municipal employee surveys to find ways to improve its functions.”

The Columbia City Council’s annual retreat is held over 2 days and is open to the public. This is such a foreign concept in the Buffalo, NY area. Councilmembers/board members rarely meet with the Mayor/Supervisor annually to discuss priorities? In fact even more troubling is that City Mayors and Town Supervisors rarely meet with their department heads on a regular basis to discuss priorities. Rudy Guiliani as Mayor of New York City meet with his department heads every morning to share information and to address government issues in a coordinated way.

When department heads do not meet as a group with the chief elected official of a municipality direction on priorities and goals becomes cloudy. This lack of direction becomes even more problematic when elected legislators themselves are not on the same page with each other or with the Mayor/Supervisor.

In order to accomplish something through the bureaucracy of government, communication is key. The first step to getting everyone focusing on the same priorities is to get everyone in the same room as department heads and as elected officials. Getting everyone in the same room to discuss government priorities simply does not happen in the Buffalo area, does it happen in your community?


About The Author

The definition of reinvent is:to replace with an entirely new version, to make over completely, to recast something familiar or old into a different form.In my opinion we need to reinvent government, business and ourselves. Today’s world is about constant change driven by the power of new ideas.For the past 17 years as an attorney, I have worked in government at the county, city, authority and school district level in the Buffalo, NY area. I have seen first hand the need for reinventing how government operates. For a period of four years, I served as Chief of Staff to the 9 member City of Buffalo Common Council. Government must engage the talents and skills of its citizens by becoming more collaborative and transparent in its decision-making and operations. Utilizing technology as a tool to engage citizens is something all governments need to explore.I have great respect for entrepreneurs as they put their passion into a vision, which results in new products, new services and new jobs. Entrepreneurs are on the front lines of change. As an adjunct college instructor, I see how students and everyone for that matter must continually change and reinvent themselves to survive and be successful in today’s crazy world economy.Some of my favorite change agent writers are Tom Peters, Seth Godin, Gary Hamel and Guy Kawasaki. I welcome the opportunity to meet new people, to further my own learning and to share ideas.On a personal note I am 47 years old, my other half Cheryl is an attorney in private practice and together we have three children, Michael age 20 and Joseph age 14 and our newest shock of an addition Julia, born 11/2/11.