This Midcoast Community Council meeting begins with short presentation by Zoe Kersteen-Tucker on the merits of Measure-O–the question of slightly raising the County sales tax to fund a larger budget for parks.
The MCC is dedicating a meeting once a month to “big topics,” such as this one. This seems an excellent direction for MCC to take and it seems to be received well by the community. (I would normally break out the “big topic” portion of the video but since it begins the meeting it is easy to find. Together with the question and answer period–sometimes tedious but ultimately rewarding–it lasts under an hour.)
What follows the Measure-O presentation is the regular MCC meeting. It too is sometimes tedious but unfortunately there is little in the way of reward. From my perspective, having worked in the government and having attended many government meetings here on the coast in the past four years, it was the worst meeting I’ve ever encountered. It is the kind of meeting that sucks away all hope of ever seeing the MCC evolve into a useful institution in our community. (Perhaps the MCC should simply be a venue for presentations.)
I mentioned my dismay to a friend I encountered on the streets of Half Moon Bay and his sly response when I told him of my frustration was, “Oh, so this is the first MCC meeting you’ve ever been to?”
The problem is that the meetings drift on and on and the Council struggles to stay on topic. There is no sense of priority.
Go to a MCC meting and you will may very well see a thirty minute discussion on the intricacies of getting a key made for the organization’s mailbox.
You may very well see a long discussion, as in this meeting, on the crisis brought on by announcing that the Measure-O presentation would begin at 7:30, at the beginning of the meeting, as announced by the posters and web advertisements put together by a citizen volunteer, when the Chair much preferred that the presentation stay on hold until routine, preliminary items on the agenda were first addressed. This was a heated topic that clearly boiled the blood of Leonard Woren, the MCC Chair.
But as far as the $3000 budget, which is about to evaporate unspent as the fiscal year draws to a close? Oh, we forgot to put that on the agenda. What about following up on any of the issues raised in prior meetings? Oh, hadn’t got that far yet.
It’s not clear who or what is to blame for this sad state of affairs. I’ve heard from some people that the MCC has always been like this, at least in recent memory. But it also seems clear that MCC Chair Woren is losing control of the meetings and jeopardizing the institution, such as it is. He is, in fact, one of the worst offenders in terms of dragging discussion on long after the point of diminishing returns, failing to prioritize important agenda items in his role as Chair, allowing critical decisions to sink below sight, and in going off on tangents that divert the Council and cloud the issues. In his first few meetings as Chair, almost six months ago, he showed promise. Meetings were starting to run in an orderly way. Council members had a chance to express themselves. Forward momentum was starting to build. Now it has come to the point where people in the audience are rolling their eyes and making faces as he does his little rants.
MCC is quickly approaching a crisis point, though they do not seem to see it coming. After the election, when this Council first took their seats in December, there was a measure of public interest in the MCC, a measure of hope that it would evolve into a valuable public institution.
But in six months since taking office what has been accomplished? (I intend to ask that very question to each member of the MCC and will report their responses.)
The current council is frittering away the political capital that came after the election, when there were actual members of the public in the audience. Rich Gordon, of the County Board of Supervisors–to whom the MCC is an advisory body–has already questioned the purpose and very existence of the MCC. It will soon come to be that the MCC is seen as an embarrassment rather than an asset.