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Harnessing Creativity
Bill Michalsky | Stratford Court


Our community is well known for citizen involvement. Some liken it to democracy in action. So what is happening when the City Council and staff begin the process of drafting a resolution to establish Standard Operating Procedures and Policies for Del Mar Advisory Committees and Boards? All of this was on the City Council’s Monday night (03/18/13) agenda.

This all started innocently enough, many months ago, when advisory committees were asked to review the reasons for their existence that had been put in place over the years through various City Council resolutions or, put into bureaucratic terms their missions, and work programs. One could suggest that it is a good thing to review what the committees are up to, and that their reason for being should be updated and tested - and perhaps, if filling no purpose, that they be shuttered.

But when Standard Operating Procedures are suggested it takes me back, a time ago, to being in the Army. Do we want our committees to be in rigid formation, marching to a meaningless drum, or to be organic and holistic thinkers who are willing to listen to their leaders (council liaisons) and the community for a greater good?

The resolution also relaxes the Council requirement to update the various committees’ makeup or assignments (work program) without a new resolution - allowing for changes that could be made before most community members have a clue to what is occurring. At least a resolution is a process that is more transparent, though at times cumbersome, and leads to more discussion and understanding.

There are other issues within this proposal that could tie up agenda creation and the establishment of committee sub-committees that often do the hard work between regular meetings which often benefit the Council and Staff. The establishment, several years ago, of council liaisons for advisory committees should be insurance enough that the committees are not likely to escape their boundaries and cause embarrassment or lost staff time.

This proposed harnessing of the various committees could have a chilling impact on and drive away the community volunteers that are sought after to fill vacant chairs. This resolution needs to be revisited, shared with the impacted committees and not be so restrictive.

Take the time to visit agenda item 15 from the March 18th City Council meeting.



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