Monday, December 3, at 5:30 p.m. the City is having an open house at City Hall to recognize the work of our many boards and commissions. We are also hopeful that citizens will show up who may be interested in serving and want to learn more about how advisory boards work. Events at City Hall do not happen without some great teamwork, and I would like to express my appreciation to the employees in all departments who have contributed to this one. I would also like to invite all interested employees to attend the event. The food is good and the company will be great.
I think one of the most satisfying things about being a city manager is the chance to associate with so many people who routinely contribute to making their community better. Sitting through long meetings that sometimes include contentious discussions when the volunteer has already put in a full day of work at their regular job is a significant sacrifice. Most of these citizens receive very little recognition for their contributions and even less in the way of tangible benefits.
Perhaps the most important of the contributions board members make is the message they deliver to the rest of the community. It is easy to dismiss a newsletter or news release from City staff as just more fluff from City Hall. It is much harder to ignore a neighbor or friend who has spent many hours learning about an important issue confronting the town. We currently have 91 term positions on our boards and commissions plus a number of volunteers who serve on ad hoc task forces. These people have families, friends, and associates who will have the opportunity to hear about an issue from someone they trust. Board members do not always share the same perspective, but they generally have access to accurate information. I believe this process builds understanding and support for necessary services and projects.
My first association with a volunteer advisory board came when I was appointed to serve as a student advisor to the Bend Planning Commission in 1970. I still have my letter of appointment and a vivid memory of an hour-long discussion on whether to allow a garage to encroach a few inches into an alley. I have often observed since becoming a city manager that the noblest form of public service is being a member of a city planning commission. Voting membership almost guarantees you will make someone mad; and even when you please people, you are unable to receive anything more than their thanks.
I hope people will take the time to participate in our annual open house and, more importantly, use the opportunity to thank the many volunteers who make real sacrifices without asking anything in return.