During a fantastic career in local and municipal government I had the privilege to work with hundreds of wonderful men and women; local residents who stepped up to the plate to serve in a public office. They gave their time, devoted their energies and shared their wisdom to help make their Townships, Villages, Cities or Counties etc. etc. better places for their families, friends and neighbors.
Unfortunately not every local public official was admirable; there were a handful, who for whatever reason made service on a public body an arduous task. They tended to be self-serving individuals who generated ill will, created havoc and fostered a dysfunctional atmosphere. With little or no effort they alienated their colleagues and infuriated public employees. Below are the ten most common ways I witnessed how individuals alienated their elected colleagues. No doubt there are more and I would sure appreciate your insights.
1) Never read the distributed board or council ‘agenda information packet’ prior to the start of a meeting. Wait to just before the meeting starts then open your materials. Scan the information quickly and go into the meeting totally unprepared to discuss any of the subjects intelligently.
2) Ignore Robert’s Rules of Order. Should you have a point to make interrupt your colleagues; just speak loud and don’t let them finish their sentences? When the meeting is over apologize if there was a misunderstanding but insist your colleagues took your actions out of context
3) If the facts presented overwhelming support the passing of a motion or resolution that you are personally against – ignore the facts. Introduce nonsensical emotional banter which will ignite the ire of your colleagues and stir up public debate throughout the community then ask the item be tabled.
4) Should a colleague share a thought or address an idea at a public meeting do anything but listen. Check emails, read texts or clean your briefcase. Show a total lack of interest in whatever is being said because it doesn’t’ matter, it’s not your point of view and you’re opinion won’t change.
5) If a colleague interrupts or multitasks while you are speaking point out how rude that colleague is. Ask that person to extend a little professional courtesy while you are speaking.
6) Create a blog or email newsletter and give occasional updates on board or council actions. Use these social media tools to highlight how your colleagues are approve unnecessary government programs and love to raise taxes. Always summarize your thoughts as being the right decision.
7) Give frequent media interviews but only on controversially subjects; issues that involve the large expenditure of tax dollars or ordinances that will impact the community. Insist there is no need to rush to approve items; insist they and should be discussed further. Recommend that a blue ribbon commission made of up dozens of people be established to make recommendations.
8) Take personal credit for every money saving initiatives and all worthwhile programs your elected body has passed – even if you voted against it. Somehow explain you were the one who initially brought up the idea up and your vote against it shows your board does not rubber stamp all actions.
9) Should a colleague start to share a memorable event that occurred with their family or in their business quickly bring up something you did similar? Remind everyone what you achieved and all the wonderful things you and your family do.
10. Toss out sublet innuendos and imply there might have been a violation of open meeting laws. Allege a secret meeting or conspiracy might be taking place to control the outcome of a board action. Vaguely infer your colleague’s might benefit from their voting record on the board.
If I am the only local government / municipal manager who has witnessed the above actions on Govloop I apologize; however over the years I had occasions where I had to endure dysfunctional and non functioning boards because a few individuals alienated their colleagues.