Council forms vision

Published 12:16 am Saturday, November 7, 2015

City Council members spent the second day of their retreat on Friday talking about ways to enhance communication and trust as well as refining their vision for the city and how to get there.

As during the first day of the retreat at the Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center, communication and trust were the top issues.

The members discussed the importance of not blindsiding each other during the new business section of meetings, letting others know when they have changed their position on an issue and communicating well.

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“My biggest concern has been communication,” Councilman Tim Johnson said. “I don’t like the way we communicate.”

Council members decided to look at a process by which individuals could bring up areas of concern to the group, perhaps as part of a work session.

“It will give that council person the opportunity to bring up that topic, get your thoughts out there,” Councilman Mike Duman said. “The problem is there’s really not a specific venue for council people to legally discuss things more than one on one.”

Duman acknowledged it is the right of a council member to bring up topics under new business.

“I see it purely as personal behavior,” Mayor Linda T. Johnson said.

Johnson also added that, while several notable incidents of council being “blindsided” have occurred in recent years, it’s an old problem.

“This is something we’ve been dealing with since, Curtis, probably since you can remember,” she said, addressing Councilman Curtis Milteer, who is in his 35th year on council.

Another suggestion was to bring up new topics during the period of the meeting reserved for comments from council members, which usually brings a recitation of all the events the member has attended since the last meeting.

“That’s one of the longest parts of our meetings,” the mayor said. “Maybe rather than discussing the 20 or 30 places we’ve been,” the focus could be on city business.

Revisiting the council code of ethics was also discussed.

“I would like to re-look at it and revise it,” Duman said.

In another session Friday, council members discussed eight priority areas and came up with aspirations to work toward.

The areas were: transportation and infrastructure; financial strength; economic development; education; leisure, health and wellness; managed growth; public safety; and civic engagement.

Also Friday, the group reviewed the roles of council members, the mayor and the city manager.

A meeting to refine the vision is expected to be scheduled soon.