Police Headquarters, Prescott Room
219 S. Ivy Street, Medford, Oregon
1. Visioning Retreat
Police Headquarters, Prescott Room
219 S. Ivy Street, Medford, Oregon
The Medford City Council Study Session was called to order at 6:00 p.m. in the Prescott Room of Police Headquarters on the above date with the following members and staff present:
Mayor Gary Wheeler; Councilmembers Clay Bearnson, Kay Brooks, Tim D’Alessandro, Tim Jackle, Kevin Stine, Kim Wallan and Michael Zarosinski
City Manager Brian Sjothun; Deputy City Manager Kelly Madding; City Attorney Lori Cooper; Parks and Recreation Director Rich Rosenthal, Building Director Sam Barnum, Public Works Director Cory Crebbin, Police Chief Randy Sparacino, Planning Director Matt Brinkley, Finance Director Alison Chan; Deputy City Recorder Winnie Shepard
Councilmember Dick Gordon was absent.
Megan Lightman, Chief Executive Officer of Davis Consulting Group, opened the meeting, reviewed key points for activities, and outlined basic ground rules for the evening. She stated her goal is to help Council and Department Heads work together to provide the best possible outcome to for the City.
City Manager Brian Sjothun clarified the purpose of the evening: to move forward by working together, cooperatively and productively. He believed all staff wanted to do a good job for the City and noted that improved communication should lessen the workload for Councilmembers to allow them to focus on bigger and better things.
Exercise 1: Name one possible misperception people may think about you versus how you would like them to view you.
Ms. Lightman noted she received 16 responses to her survey. Comments regarding communication, trust and understanding were brought forth from both the Council and Department Heads. She discussed various points of concern and praise.
Group 1 – How staff could improve communication, trust and respect between staff and Council?
- Council could improve staying on task
- Staff and Council do not necessarily know each other on a personal level
- Councilmembers could be viewed as having an agenda or specific “favorite topic”
Group 2 – How Council could improve communication, trust and respect between staff and Council?
- Staff is knowledgeable and easy to access
- Public meeting laws being observed
Mayor Wheeler asked whether all Councilmembers had time to thoroughly read everything distributed for the upcoming week. Council briefly discussed whether reducing agenda items or the number of ordinances/resolutions would help, but decided against it as it wasn’t the number of items, but their content that determined the length of time needed.
If Council provided questions in advance of meetings, staff can respond with all information available versus responding without preparation; however, Councilmembers don’t always have questions in advance as questions can occur during meetings.
Group 3 – Behaviors to eliminate to move forward collaboratively:
- Council could be better prepared
- Council should treat staff with respect during meetings
- Give staff a head’s up with specific questions before meeting, so staff isn’t taken off guard
- Staff needs to be more detailed in Agenda Item Commentaries
- Questions should be an attempt to understand the issue
- Eliminate surprise questions
- Continue to build relationships; we’re in it together
- Staff knows what to expect
- Keep the flow of the meeting
- Aggression (insinuations, rudeness, lack of tact)
- Lack of trust
- Absence of Councilor orientation
Council and staff discussed:
- Proactive collaboration (pre-emptive problem solving)
- Assume best intentions
- Group approach
Group 4 - Rules to move forward collaboratively with trust and respect:
- Aggression appeared to be going both directions; being collaborative, problem solving, and taking a proactive approach is difficult without trust
- Mayor Wheeler noted there should be differences of opinion and those were expected with any group of people.
- Reminder that meetings are televised and people are watching
- New Councilmember orientation
- Councilmembers believed introductory meetings would be scheduled with Department Heads
- Department Heads thought Councilmembers would schedule
- Mr. Sjothun agreed it was an area for improvement
Ms. Lightman called a recess at 7:27 p.m.
- Make sure questions are to gain information, not discrediting speaker
- Spend additional time educating new Councilmembers
- Don’t assume staff is trying to set policy
- Not respectful of time and makes City look bad
- Hard to explain City responsibilities and constraints in an open meeting
- Not productive and can undermine perception of City team
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The meeting reconvened at 7:40 p.m. with the same members present.
Exercise 3: Suggestions to get meetings back on track in real time.
- Use Parliamentary Procedure
- Point of order
- Call for the question
- Council does not follow proper procedure
- Discussion rules
- Provide Councilmembers just one opportunity to speak on a topic; cut off the back and forth
- Building relationships
- Self-limit to one set of questions; versus depending on Mayor
- No one person dominating the conversation
- Council should feel empowered to bring others back on track
- Mayor inquiries to pertinence
- Open to recess/continuance; motion to adjourn
- Restating the matter at hand i.e. “…what I’m hearing you say is…”
- Maintain humor/congeniality
- Ms. Lightman pointed out that questions to improve discussions were listed on Page 5 of the Council’s orientation handbook. She also stated that if a person makes a mistake or misspeaks, the best option is to own it immediately to avoid tension during a meeting.
Exercise 4: Ms. Lightman requested two long-term goals and two short-term goals from each attendee. She will present them during the next meeting.
Deputy City Manager Kelly Madding stated she believed that in order to maintain positive relationships, at least 70% of the interactions should be positive. If the positive interactions become lower than 70%, relationships become toxic.
Ms. Lightman clarified the Charter prohibits a Councilmember from reporting subordinates to the City Manager.
Ms. Lightman requested takeaways learned from this vision session and/or future topics to address:
Mr. Sjothun commented that every person has room for improvement and staff needed direction from Council.
- Council would like to change the way they run their own meetings
- Vision discussion should be meaningful and brief
- The public does pay attention to behavior during meetings
- Determine two or three overarching goals
- Noticed some “unraveling” of some of the mistrusts during this session
- Determine goals and move toward goals together
- Determine our goals to accomplish within the next couple years
- Determine long-term goals time
- Involve community partners; outside agencies like chamber, school district, business, religious, etc. as well as the public
- Include vision in budget planning
Councilmember Brooks requested a briefing of topics for discussion before the next meeting.
The meeting adjourned at 8:36 p.m.
Deputy City Recorder