Very few town board or city councils actually set goals or involve the community in goal setting and reviewing the accomplishment of goals. Bay City Michigan (population 35,000), does all of the above. As reported in the Bay City News , the City Commission invited the public to participate in a Saturday meeting to set goals for the City Manager. A few months ago the City Manager in a public session and in a private session with city officials explained how he met last year’s goals. Input is being sought from city residents to prioritize a list of goals for 2012.

In contrast every year the Mayor of Buffalo holds a state of the city address where without any discussion with city councilmembers or community members the Mayor proposes his goals and initiatives for the year. As the Buffalo News reports, the Mayor’s success in achieving the yearly goals he puts out are mixed. “The Buffalo News asked the Brown administration last week for more information about four projects and initiatives announced in prior State of the City addresses. The Mayor’s Office did not respond to The News’ inquiries for information.”

When the Buffalo Common Council President was asked about the four initiatives according to the Buffalo News “He said he wasn’t familiar enough with them to provide more information.” Councilmember David Rivera stated “If the information about previous projects is difficult for a reporter to obtain, imagine what the public gets.”Rivera said it’s important to have checks and balances in government so that such information can be tracked and disclosed.”I’d imagine if they did what they said they were going to do,” Rivera said, “they’d have press conferences.”

The process utilized in Buffalo does not sufficiently engage fellow elected officials and community members in setting goals for the City. The communication necessary to get people on board and committed to making things happen simply does not take place. The end result is that not a lot gets done other than the initial splash of press coverage.

The approach utilized in Bay City takes time, but in the end it is a better approach to setting government goals and monitoring their accomplishment. There is never a meeting in Buffalo where elected officials review stated goals and discuss whether they have been achieved or not. Elected officials don’t like to be held accountable and Buffalo’s dysfunctional way of operating ensures that little gets accomplished without anyone being held responsible.

For many years Mayors and City Councilmembers in Buffalo have utilized a flawed approach in setting goals and the lack of real results in a City, which is the third poorest in the Nation speaks volumes. Instead of doing the same process year after year, maybe some future Mayor or City Council will try a different way?

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