Reply from Bob Ford Port Orange City Council
Hank, During the interview with Mr. Johansson I did ask him about citizen activists, and citizen participation.
I think that he made a poor choice of words with “necessary evil” — what he told me was that Citizen participation is often difficult to deal with, exhausts a lot of time, effort and energy of city officials …. however he concluded that it was necessary and made in the end for a better government and better outcomes.
What he also noted that with positive strategic communication — providing all the necessary information on a project etc. well in advanced and in sufficient detail and having earlier preliminary discussions with the public, much of the hostility and negatives that occurs in some citizen participation could be avoided.
Thank you Bob for clarification of this issue.
It does sound better with your clarification of the new city manager’s comments.
I think it was also unfortunate for the new city manager to use the adjective “strategic” communication.
We have seen “strategic” communication about bad issues in the past, two of such incidents come immediately to mind, and both involved issues of citizens’ tax money. I will not at this time subject us all to old news unless requested.
I must reject any complaints about the time and energy spent on answering questions from citizens. If information is presented in a timely manner to both the city council and the public, there would be no need for probing questions and requests.
It is expected that the city manager of Port Orange will honor all freedom of information requests from the public and will do so without lamenting the time and energy spent in complying with the laws of this state.
The city manager is not elected, is hired by the city council, and reports to the city council. Any shortcomings incurred by the city manager should be shared by the city council.
It is not ignored by me, that among certain interests in the city of Port Orange, the short lived tenure of some city managers and administrators is a result of citizen participation in monitoring city administrative performance. Such a resentment of that kind of citizen participation will be watched closely by me, and for the sake of my 700 daily readers on my web site, I hope that I will have not to address this issue of resentment towards “activists” again. I find it academically and administratively condemning to not welcome “negative” criticism. Much of the negative criticism which has come to city hall has been based on facts, which city managers have found annoying to have to prepare to people who generally have “negative” criticism of the past and the present. There not only has to be a reform in city operations, there needs to be a reform in the culture of Port Orange Politics and operations.
This is not about me, but I tell this story for the edification of the public. A certain City Councilman probably thought I should be impressed that he came to my house and lied to me about what was said at a meeting of councilmen which was not recorded by the city manager. Such dishonesty no longer sits well with people who are interested in governmental and political efforts. It sits well with me that you Bob Ford did honestly tell me that you at said meeting did speak out kind of “passionately” about not trying to stifle negative criticism. (This issue can wrongly be deflected into an issue of discussing negative comments on a poorly designed internet survey.) I know the difference between stifling negative comments, and addressing the details of the comments. I have all too well seen the organized opposition to our “activists”, and such activities have proven to me that not all is well in Port Orange administration and City politics.
This is the way it is, and it is what it is. Some beat down Ted Noftall, Mark Schaefer, the Gardiners, and maybe Newton White and perhaps these individuals do provide negative criticism to the city council and the city manager. Let the new city manager understand that a few interested citizens now closely scrutinize his work performance . I applaud you Bob Ford for replying to me and allowing me to engage in a conversation which I think should be important to all citizens of Port Orange. I for one have been enraged by some who have laid the blame for what is wrong about Port Orange to Bob Ford as city councilman and Ted Noftall being vocal. I might be able to tolerate “mistakes” if they are acknowledged and corrected.
Foremost for me is honest communication and not strategic communication. Others probably more reasonable have an interest in mismanagement of financial affairs. I too am vexed why the city needs my tax money to hire a consultant to help the financial director (who I believe has a salary of over $100,000 a year) complete the yearly financial report on a timely basis.
Thank you Bob for responding and I appreciate your clarification.
It distresses me to proclaim such a feeble warning from a guy who has a web site, that he is not sure the new city manager will work out well. Already he speaks like a protégé of the old guard. I know it is considered well-mannered politics not to be associated with negative comments about other city council people, but let me be real. There is an internal fight between those who want city reform and those allied with special financial interests who do not relish real reform. If anyone needs to understand such a political culture just see the POG TV series where a former mayor lauds a certain reporter who did not report to the public a criminal scandal in Port Orange City Hall.
I am glad you Bob Ford are there on city council, and I hope Ted Noftall can join you next year on the city council.
The best to you and family.
Sincerely Hank Springer