Strategic Plan Rules of Engagement

An old sales manager who worked for me often said that the reason God gave us two eyes, two ears and only one mouth is so we can look and listen twice as much as we talk.

I’m trying to build bridges; so I’m asking all sides to leave all baggage at the shore of the swamp that divides us and walk gently and quietly towards common ground.

Hudson tends to be a passionate and opinionated community, so debate can become dangerous at times. Based on recent events, I believe that before we review our future plans we should review some basic rules of engagement for respectful discussion and debate.

Our leaders are our neighbours and friends, the pittance we pay them makes it as close to volunteer per hour as you could imagine. They ask little of us while walking among us and we too often ask the impossible from them. If we continue to waste their time, attack their ideas without fully understanding them, or treat them with disrespect or suspicion at every turn we eventually won’t have leaders willing to run for election. Revisit my recent posts on Designed to Fail and ask how that might serve a Provincial government wishing for fewer municipalities.

Council knows my mind because I don’t expect them to read my mind, so I invite them to read my thoughts here and via emails. Every post I make on this blog, every comment I make on Facebook is shared with our Mayor and Council immediately so they can be the first to read it. I am willing to publish whatever I say and I won’t publish or say anything behind their backs.

You must also know that Council and I don’t always agree. I’m not perfect and at rare times they’ve angered me and I’ve walked the very edges of disrespectful and will try to do better in the future. In the end, I sure do respect them for the mess they took over, what they’ve done already, what they’re trying to do and the difficult challenges that Hudson has always presented to those who choose to lead us.

Frankly I’m impressed for different reasons with each and every Hudson Councillor and especially their willingness to establish a dialogue and try to solve problems with me. When we differ, they usually reach out and together we try to and usually  close in on or come to common ground.

Naturally, I’m confused and deeply ashamed when Council is heckled at monthly meetings like the last one. If that’s the Hudson we aspire to, I’ll have no part of it. I do understand that it is only a few citizens, less than half of one percent, who are apparently frustrated to self-reduced humanity for various reasons. But there’s just no place for any of that type of disrespectful behavior in our town. I’m disappointed that the vast majority of Hudson did not see that behavior, because I know us to be a polite and respectful place and most Hudsonites would as be angered as I was. We’re all equals on the same side here.

A great problem with planning any progress is that we actually need to agree on a few things, starting with the idea that things must change. In the past few posts I’ve tried to be realistic about some of the risks of failure to manage ourselves, and those risks begin with feeling safe doing nothing and end with Hudson mostly disappearing if we do no better than we have done in the past 20 years. Council better understands the fiscal challenges, the bureaucratic challenges and the hole we started from, but they cannot be expected to have all the answers immediately available, nor can they respond to every great idea they get passed. The key to Hudson’s past success is that a citizen with a great idea gathers some friends to help and the group contributes to the greatness  of our community.

Hudson has been lacking on serious long term planning for decades, so the Prevost Administration’s efforts to establish one have been a confusing new experience for many in Hudson. Especially the part where they actually asked all citizens for our input before taking probably well over a thousand comments and distilling them into Hudson’s Strategic Plan. And yes, they paid some local professionals to help them pull the plan together because it must have been a time consuming and daunting task and they didn’t want to miss anything.

I’m confused by many of the reactions I hear, which range from “great ideas” through “How dare they?” through “What were they thinking (or smoking)?” and span the gamut from quiet support through suspicion, distrust, vocal rejection to some seriously libelous statements about who might benefit that I won’t dignify in digital ink.

In the next couple of posts I want to build on positives and make a case for what our leaders believe we must do to ensure the survival of Hudson and help share the Prevost administration’s look beyond to where we could thrive again.

Today, in preparation for discussion, I’m giving everyone some homework.

Don’t believe what you’ve heard, actually take the time to read the Strategic Plan, or at least the summary version. Extra nerd credit will be given for reading the appendix. Then mark your calendars on May 12, 2016 for the Strategic Plan public meeting, which unfortunately I will be out of town for because of a prior commitment.

The links to your homework are:

Strategic Plan: http://www.hudson.quebec/wpcontent/uploads/_conseilmaire/Plan%20strategique/Our%20Town%20Our%20Futur%20Eng.pdf

Appendix:

http://www.hudson.quebec/wp-content/uploads/_conseil-maire/Plan%20strategique/Hudson%20Appendix%202-%20Financial%20Plan%20Detail%20Eng.pdf

Overview:

http://www.hudson.quebec/wp-content/uploads/BOOKLET-ENGlr.pdf

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