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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Community Run Amok

I found myself at the Community Advisory Committee meeting last night, which meeting is usually at least mildly informative and sometimes engaging.  There are the four or five committee members (who sit at the table) and then there are 3 or 4 other people who show up, who sit in the chairs around the wall.  (This is all in the back room of the Community Center.)

The general procedure is for the committee members to introduce an agenda, to bring everyone up to date on the various topics, and, occasionally, for those in the outer chairs to ask a question or bring up a new issue.  And after an hour everyone goes home.

Last night, however, about 15 people showed up, filled up all the seats at the table with the committee members and then leaked out into the outer ring of chairs.  And then, although the agenda was presented as usual, it was an extraordinarily chaotic session which seemed likely to go on for 2 hours when I left, after 90 minutes.  It was if the filling in of the chairs at the table turned it into some kind of free-talking dinner party, leaving the outer ring of chair-fillers to treat the main event as a performance that they were free to kibbitz.  Everything but applause and boos.  And everyone talk at the same time.

I thought about that time back in the early 70's maybe when they tried to figure out whether the Vietnam War participants would sit around a round table or a square table to discuss an armistice.  At least they weren't inviting a bunch of other people to sit with them.

I know this is a community group and open to everyone, transparency and all that.  But if it is going to work, it's going to need a better plan that just having everyone talk simultaneously.

Some conclusions from the evening (that is, action items, as they are called in the meeting biz):

No light at Johnson and Tyee, and instead reflective posts.  The County wanted four lights, the CAC wanted 1 and no compromise number was available or feasible or something.  No one blinked and so there will be no light.  If you are turning onto Johnson from Tyee in the dark, please slow down and look.

A walking path like the one on Benson will be attempted down on Marine Drive somewhere near the Cannery and which is called something else right now, but at least is also known as the Yellow Building.

Goodman Road is a county problem not a CAC problem.

Some kind of temporary trial of radar speed detector (not for the use of the Sheriff's Office to give tickets, but for driver information) will be sought to see if it will affect the disastrous speeding problem that exists on Point Roberts.  There seems to be substantial agreement among some people that there is a terrible problem here (although I don't so much sense it myself: occasionally I see a car on Benson, say, going too fast, but it isn't like I fear to walk along the roads, nor that we are locally filling up crash wards or anything).  I don't know that anybody has actually substantiated this problem.  Complaints of 'Hollywood stops' at stop signs may infuriate those who feel the law must be followed to the letter, but they are called 'Hollywood Stops' because they are standard practice throughout southern California.  That's how they drive.  Maybe that's how they drive here, too.

Finally, Maple Beach parking.  Although I doubt anything will come of this, the CAC will ask the County to assess the parking problem at Maple Beach and make recommendations.  The recommendations at the meeting were to remind people that you can park on both sides of the street on every street in Maple Beach.  Apparently, the property owners would have you think differently.

Actually a lot got done, but it was plenty confusing, nonetheless and no way to run a railroad or a committee meeting, in my view.


Anonymous said...

an extrordinarily choatic session in my opinion is an understatement.
I've seen better run meetings in the monkey cage at the zoo

Dwayne Hunt said...

I agree with your comments completely. Total confusion and nothing gets done.People come and go at random, committe members attempt to speak and can't because viitors will carry on conversations. I've seen better run meetings carried out in a monkey cage.
Dwayne Hunt,