OK, we are a little more caught up now: on my sleep, on post-campaign tasks, on re-aligning lifestyles, and with the reality that my reality has now changed. I guess I should blog about what it is like to be a City Councillor, now that I have something like 24 hours of experience.
Yesterday’s inauguration was a good symbolic break from the many times I sat on the pews to the time I get the comfy seat. Without a “real business” agenda, it allowed me to get more comfortable with the new setting. So the strangeness of the experience wasn’t overcast by our need to get some work done. That’s next week’s story.
I’m not often one for pomp and ceremony, so some parts of the ritual seemed a little strange for me. The legal requirements for the oaths are understandable, but there are other parts of the tradition that I’m not too sure about. It was nice, however, to see so many faces in the crowd that were supportive during the campaign, and some I had only met during the campaign. I really appreciate people coming out to see us off on this new adventure.
I’m a little disappointed that we didn’t have an opportunity to introduce “new business” to the agenda, as I would have called for an emergency motion to strike the word “pecuniary” from all future oaths. Surely “financial or monetary” would suffice, no? (sorry, not an inside joke, but you need to watch the video if you weren’t there!) Funny thing is we had not seen the oath before it was handed to us, but heard it the first time when Mayor Cote said it, and a few of my council colleagues could be heard faintly whispering “peck-EWE-nee-airy”” before their turn came up, it was clearly the word of concern. Once reading, I ran into it so quickly I didn’t even see it coming – jokes on me. All said, considering we were reading something unrehearsed into a microphone in front of cameras and a packed house, I guess we got away with it pretty well…
Less said about the Parcel Tax Roll Review Oath the better. Clearly the voters can elect a Council, but they can’t be trusted to elect a Choir.
So, aside from yesterday’s Inauguration Meeting, I have had an opportunity last week to sit down with a few senior staff in the City and start my training. I have had a lot of interaction with Staff and Council in New West in my volunteer life, so I have some basic understanding of how New Westminster operates at the superficial level. I have also worked in a City Hall, so I have some understand of the major day-to-day operational parts of a local government. However, none of that is useful without understanding the cultural and organizational differences between the two workplaces, and seeing how the operation is viewed from inside, which is inevitably different than the view from outside. I have another all-day session planned before Christmas with senior staff from each department to drill down a little deeper into existing operational plans, strategies, and outlooks. I am definitely on the steep part of the learning curve, but that where I love to be.
I also filled out a bunch of HR paperwork. So it wasn’t all fun and giggles.
Finally, I have had some discussions with the new Mayor about strategic planning for the upcoming term. As disclosed during his Inaugural Speech, there are no real surprises: his priorities are clear (transportation, economic development, leveraging the RCH expansion, community engagement) and I look forward to working with him and the rest of my Council team to see those visions realized. In the short term, Council has our first “real” meeting next week, then some time over the Christmas break to get our Committees and Task Forces organized. The members of Council have provided the Mayor our “preferred” list of committees, and I think I know where I will be most useful, but ultimately it is one of His Worship’s supreme powers to decide who chairs which committees. As soon as I know for sure where I will be assigned, I’ll let you know.