Our Voice: Team building won’t work for council | TheUnion.com

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Our Voice: Team building won’t work for council

Mayor Gerard Tassone and Councilman Dean Williams squared off Tuesday night over the issue of hiring a consultant to lead the Grass Valley City Council on some team-building exercises.

We applaud this wonderful example of representative government in action.

Williams felt that his input as a subcommittee member on the team-building team was not seriously considered. Specifically, he claimed he was excluded from the process that developed the criteria for hiring a consultant to do the training.

Tassone said that since he and his fellow subcommittee member did not see eye-to-eye on the matter, his input wasn’t necessary, which was why he ordered the city administrator to send out the solicitations.

The disagreement seems to stem from the different goals of the two elected officials. Williams wants this process to focus on a mechanism for evaluating the four special development areas. Earlier this year, he proposed that it take a 4-1 council vote to approve each of the four proposed projects.

What emerged from that request was a council decision to pursue team building, a dubious concept at best for an elected body.

Tuesday night’s meeting demonstrated the inherent problem with trying to get a council to think like a team. You can’t do it. Furthermore, you shouldn’t try to do it.

City councilors are expected to represent their constituents. We also expect them to share their thoughts openly and candidly while discussing issues that affect the community.

The concern about team building is that it might undermine this essential process. We don’t want our elected officials nodding their heads in agreement for the purpose of harmony.

Government needs to be as transparent as possible, even if it isn’t always pretty. The fact that Tassone and Williams can disagree publicly is reassuring to those of us who want strong, independent thinkers on our governing boards.

It’s time to scrap the team-building idea and push ahead with the important business the council will be wrestling with in the upcoming months. Let them argue, let them listen to constituents and then let them vote.

If that’s the process, we can live with the results. And if we don’t like the results, we can elect new councilors the next time around. That’s the way it’s supposed to work.