Manteca’s five elected leaders — as well as the City Council and department heads — may get schooled in essentially how to work as a team.
And it will cost taxpayers $10,000.
The City Council meets at 5:45 p.m. today in a special session to decide whether to hire Management Partners to conduct a facilitated workshop retreat on team building, group effectiveness, roles, and communications. It is the only open session item on the agendas that also includes a closed for session regarding a performance evaluation of City Manager Tim Ogden. The council meets at the Civic Center, 1001 W. Center St.
The details of the actual workshop proposal were not posted with the agenda on the city’s website.
The City Council obtained an expert facilitator when Ogden was first hired in August 2017. The facilitator met with the Council, City Manager, and Department Heads to ensure all understood each other’s expectations and to ensure smooth operations in the Council-Manager form of government.
Three of the current council members were not present at that session given they weren’t elected until 15 months later in November of 2018. The three are Mayor Ben Cantu as well as council members Jose Nuno and Dave Breitenbucher.
Last week the council unanimously approved a consent item to have Ogden present them with a proposal to hire a consultant to facilitate a session or two between the City Council and the City Manager and staff ‘to continue moving the city’s business forward in a productive and efficient manner.” A memo for that consent item stated “some of the effort could help move the city toward development of a Strategic Plan with adopted Council vision, goals and action items for staff to implement.”
To that extent, the current council has not developed a strategic plan per se that priorities wants and needs from their perspective that is tempered by available funding and staff time.
There have also been some miscues in communications between the city manager and individual council members with the most high profile example being 11-year council veteran Debby Moorhead expressing her perception that she was being marginalized as a council member.
In addition it has become common for the current council to often fail to complete a full agenda sometimes to the chagrin of citizens that show up to offer input or their concerns only to find out after investing four hours of seat time the council wouldn’t be taking up the item that prompted them to attend the meeting.
The council has a policy of not starting a new agenda item after 10 p.m. unless the majority agrees to do so.
That has prompted Mayor Cantu, who runs the meeting, to bemoan there is never time left over for council comments that he wants moved to the front portion of the agenda on an ongoing basis.
The council often meets at 5 p.m. for a special closed door session prior to the start of the regular meeting at 7 p.m. taking place the first and third Wednesdays of the month. That means by the time adjournment rolls around typically just before or after 11 p.m. the council has been in meetings for six hours.
The decision to not tackle new items after 10 p.m. unless the council votes to do so was a bid to keep the council as sharp as possible while conducting the city’s business.
It has been 17 years since the last time issues with council meetings dragging on plagued elected leaders.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email firstname.lastname@example.org