By Bill Oakey May 19, 2016
I have asked this question before, both on this blog and in the offices down at City Hall. There was the first time and then the next time. The last time I tried it out on a City Council aide, I got a polite response. In fact, they’ve all been polite. But we are still no closer to an actual, tangible report that you could hold in your hand or click on from a website. What we need, in my opinion, is a complete list of all active City plans, showing how much each one of them will cost, and what the total cost would be if we funded every one of them. And, there’s one other thing. We need a public process to engage with the City Council, so they can set priorities and establish an affordable timeline to implement and pay for the most essential plans.
So, there! I’ve said it again. And on Thursday during Citizens Communications at the City Council meeting, I will deliver the suggestion and the request one more time. Rather than repeat myself on this blog, I will offer the previous links to this subject at the end. But first, I must confess that I failed to employ one of my core research principles. So, let’s get that out of the way right now.
My Favorite Question for Other Cities – How Do You Do It?
Today a little light went off in my head, and I realized that I needed to do a simple Google search for “list of city plans.” Lo and behold, there are other cities out there that publish lists of their plans. Granted, these are not necessarily in a format that summarizes, prioritizes and tallies up the total cost. But, heck, a master list is a gigantic step in the right direction. This might help convince Austin officials that it isn’t such a crazy idea after all. Below are links to some of the lists from other cities found in the Google search:
- Portsmouth, New Hampshire – “Plans and Reports,” from “Plan Portsmouth” website
- Homer, Alaska – “Strategic Doing List of City Plans” (Memorandum 15-042)
- Ann Arbor, Michigan – “List of City Plans,” from “Sustainability Framework, 2013,” Appendix A, Page 14
- Asheville, North Carolina – “City Plans”
- Urbana, Illinois – “Urbana Plan Commission, Regular Meeting Minutes,” November 6, 2014, Item 5, Page 2, 5th paragraph, “There is a list of City plans that are available on the City’s website…”
I should point out that a few of Austin’s plans are listed on the “Planning and Zoning Development webpage.”
How Long Should It Take the City to Compile the List?
One friend told me that it’s “pretty scary” to think that no one person at City Hall knows how many plans there are, much less how much all of them totaled up might cost. So, what deadline should I suggest, if I can find a Council sponsor for a resolution? The bottom line would be a pretty scary number, so perhaps October 31st, Halloween, would be appropriate. The City Manager would no doubt decide which Halloween of which year in the future to comply with the resolution, regardless of what due date is certified by the City Clerk in the approved document. But it’s still worth one more try. Maybe the request won’t just fade away, like all the other times.
One Final Comment That Does Bear Repeating
You can read my previous blog postings on this subject by clicking here, here and here. To conclude, let’s all think about this question. What would happen if the CEO of Apple, Google, Amazon or any other big company was called upon by their board of directors to provide a complete list of that company’s active plans, their total cost, and a time frame for funding those plans? Suppose that CEO stared back at the board and said, “I don’t have any such list, and I don’t know how many departments have active plans in place.” The chairperson would most likely reply, “We hope you have enjoyed your tenure here as CEO. The door is over that way…”
Musical Accompaniment for This Blog Posting:
- “Making Plans” – Porter Wagoner & Dolly Parton, 1980
- “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” – Paul Simon, 1975
- “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” – Celine Dion, 2004
- “The Next Time” – Cliff Richard & the Shadows, 1962
- “The Last Time” – The Rolling Stones, 1965
- “This Time” – Troy Shondell, 1961
- “Time After Time” – Frank Sinatra, 1947
- “Time After Time” – Cyndi Lauper, 1983
- “There! I’ve Said It Again” – Bobby Vinton, 1963
- “Try Me One More Time” – Wanda Jackson, 1966
- “Like All The Other Times” – Marty Robbins, 1961
- “Do It Again” – The Beach Boys, 1968
Questions & Answers
- “How Do You Do It?” – Gerry & the Pacemakers, 1963. (Turned down by the Beatles for their first record)
- “Lo And Behold” – James Taylor, 1970