You have probably never been to a Livingston County Board of Commissioners meeting. You probably don’t know what the Board of Commissioners is.
Wondering what happens at their meetings? Not much.
The Monday, October 18 Board meeting was no exception. The meeting started with the pledge of allegiance, an attendance roll call, and small correspondence. During the call to the public, Kelly Raskauskas, Democratic candidate in District 7, spoke of the need for a town-hall meeting about the County’s special assessment district (SAD) debt issue. Her comments were ignored.
There were no tabled issues from previous meetings, the agenda was approved, and two Commissioners provided small reports. Then the meeting rolled into voting mode. In this phase, the board Chairwoman reads the resolution. Then a Commissioner immediately motions to adopt the resolution. Then a Commissioner seconds the motion. Then everyone on the Board says “Yay.”
There is no discussion. Sometimes an audience member is asked to provide information about a specific resolution, but it’s a mere formality. The Commissioners have a streamlined system: motion, second, yes. Motion, second, yes. They have done it thousands of times.
In an unprecedented event, Commissioner La Balle motioned to table an agenda item for further discussion. The motion passed. Dealing with employee pay grades, it is the only resolution known to us that has not passed unanimously. For some reason, the historic vote felt planned and executed. The rehearsed nature of the full Board meeting is not surprising when we realize that Commissioners actually discuss and decide these issues at their Finance Committee meetings. Convenient for the general public, these meetings take place every other Wednesday at 7:30am.
Another call to the public and no response. The meeting is over at 8:00pm. Starting a few minutes after 7:30pm, the meeting lasted approximately 27 minutes.
Do you think these meetings should have more discussion and debate about the issues affecting our County? Dane does. As president of his local teacher union upon retirement, Dane knows what it’s like to negotiate complex issues and arrive at compromises. County government should account for a variety of perspectives, manage trade-offs, and create a unique solution that is appropriate for all stakeholders. It is well known in the private sector that successful strategic and project management teams are diverse. A CEO would never put nine like-minded people on a team because the CEO knows the team won’t question their peers, challenge assumptions, change opinions, or arrive at innovative ideas; the members will merely agree on the status quo.
Do we see a variety of perspectives on the Board of Commissioners? We see nine Republicans. We see a governing body that has been ruled by one party, to the best of our knowledge, since the mid 1980s. A CEO wouldn’t choose our current Commissioners to be on a leadership team together. Voters should borrow this insight from the private sector and elect a new Commissioner. Dane is ready to work with constituents and Board members to create the unique compromises and innovative ideas that will move our County forward.