Last night, Annapolis Mayor Joshua J. Cohen’s “Idea Team” (transition team) addressed City Council with their reports. Each of the 8 teams was given 30 minutes to present the report to and field questions from the council.
While the meeting was long, the Mayor did an excellent job of keeping everyone on schedule. The Chairmen of each of the teams were certainly not afraid to let the council know how they felt about what was wrong and right about the City.
However, it appears that most of the teams misunderstood the mission. When Cohen appointed the teams back in November, he said, “What matters is if the idea makes sense. We are facing very challenging times, but I am confident that we can rise to meet those challenges if we pull together as one community. I and the incoming council are looking to this Idea Team to provide workable, specific recommendations that will enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of our city government.”
To further that, in the full report’s cover letter to the Mayor, co-Chairpersons Zina Pierre and Greg Stiverson state that “the Teams were asked to evaluate and make recommendations for their assigned subject areas, with a particular
emphasis on short-term recommendations that could have an impact on the current City budget cycle.”
The mission seems pretty clear, but it seems as if many of the teams heard, “If I were to give you the City’s checkbook with an unlimited balance, how would you spend the money?”
If you read through the Executive Summary, you will notices it is peppered with “money” words–establish, provide, create, redesign, design, fund, promote, expand, and increase. It seems that only the Budget & Finance, Government Structure, and Public Safety teams kept true to the mission.
With the City facing a huge deficit both this year and next, a harsh winter with more storms predicted, and a closet full of unsold medallions, why are the teams wasting their time designing pedestrian bridges over Ego Alley and devising plans to make a contiguous walkway along the water from the Spa Creek Bridge to the City Dock?
The City is in a precarious position and some may say on the verge of a “dire” situation. Before we go about cleaning up our house, we need to make sure the roof, windows and door are in place.
While the volunteers involved in the transition team had good intentions, it really seems as if most of them missed the mark. It was the “Idea Team”, not the “Dream Team”; and it remains to be seen what the council and the administration will take away from these reports–if anything.
If you have some time, the 176 page document is interesting reading. Please don’t print it!