Thrilled to announce I’ve been selected to join the Sarpy Chamber of Commerce Sarpy Leadership Advisory Board. As a recent graduate of the Sarpy Leadership program I can’t say enough about how outstanding this program is for building our leaders in Sarpy County. Proud to be asked to join this outstanding team. If you would like to improve your knowledge of our community and your own leadership skills please go to https://www.sarpychamber.org/leadership-sarpy and apply for admission.
Returning the Voice of the Voters – Bellevue has a communication problem. Recently steps have been taken to shut the voters voice out of how our city is run. From removing the speaking time at the end of City Council Meetings to the City Council taking upon itself the right to remove an elected Councillor the voice of the voter has been disenfranchised. To be fair this isn’t all on the Council. I’d agree that at times the speaking time has been abused but this is often a result of an untended lack of transparency from our city government. As with all professionals sometimes we put information out in the way it makes the most sense to us, not necessarily our audience. After having met with several members of our city government department staff I have no doubt that the ability and interest to serve our city is there but they need some assistance from us as citizens to do our research and to work with them on how we need transparency from our city. Having given some of that feedback I can absolutely confirm it was received with a great deal of interest and follow up.
The decision to go down the trail of the Council being able to remove a member was the intersection of a tough issue meeting obviously bad optics. If anything the request for the Council to have the right to make that decision should have gone to the voters. There should have been a question on the next ballot regarding voters giving the Council the OK to discipline a member up to removal. There was no emergency to do this that required an immediate decision (as of this date despite all the headlines the authority has not been used) regarding the removal of a sitting elected official. In the face of that lack of emergency there is no need to interfere with the voters ability to exercise the right of recall. I’ll leave it to our voters (and I would like to hear your thoughts) if the effort is worth it to re-open the wound that this process caused to rescind the decision but this was one more ugly self inflicted headline that Bellevue endured over the last several years. I’d like to have a city with a lot more voter voice and a lot less headlines about our leaders unpaid fines, permit trials, condemned properties, and overall inappropriateness.
For our City to be successful we need our leaders to respect the Voice of the Voters and remember at the end of the day they serve at our pleasure. On the flip side we as citizens of a community have a responsibility to not just raise our voice but to raise it after we’ve researched the issue and confirmed we actually understand it. By doing so we each show our respect for the other and the assumption that even if we disagree we each do so with the best interests of our community at heart. If we do this we can’t be stopped.
Tonight, through no fault of their own, our City Council, Mayor, and Planning Department was stuck making a least worst decision to negatively impact one of our neighborhoods.
The Neighborhood is Normandy Hills and due to poor planning 40+ years ago the residents of that neighborhood whose roads are already overtaxed by Mother Nature and what amounts to a single access point are going to have a development that while very nice and with developers who honestly tried to work with the community is going to add to that burden. Had the City not approved the development the property was already zoned for denser multi-housing and there would have been nothing to legally stop it.
If elected to our City Council one of my first things to do is request an audit of the planning and zoning of our city to recognize areas that are similarly poorly planned and zoned and get ahead of this before it becomes a problem. It might be too late for Normandy Hills but shame on us if we don’t use this as an opportunity to fix things before another neighborhood is impacted.
Civility, Transparency, Prosperity – It’s the first point in my platform for a reason. Without these accomplishing anything else becomes impossible.
Civility – Our elected representatives need to treat each other, our city employees, and our voters with respect and appreciation. This doesn’t require a grand plan – You Just Do It! We also need to expect our residents to follow the same mantra but how does that happen if our leaders don’t model the behavior.
Transparency – Our City government performance needs to be easily understood by someone with a high school education. For example, you shouldn’t need accounting classes to understand what’s going on with your tax dollars. We need to develop online graphical Scorecards based on the measurements our residents feel are important to the the health of our community, post them for all to see, and use them to hold our Leaders accountable. This is a fairly common tool businesses and communities use that is available today.
Prosperity – If we can be civil to one another and have the tools to measure and communicate how we’re doing we can start making and implementing the plans that our city needs to grow and still be the place we love. The Ft Crook plan, planning for Downtown, and a myriad of other issues are going to require tough conversations about what we want to be 30 years from now and how we’re going to afford it today.
Civility, Transparency, and Prosperity – That is Step 1 of my mandate. I appreciate your support in this and look forward to your questions and ideas.