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Date of Issue: March 17, 2005

Maloney, mayor spat over strategic planning

Holmes Beach Commissioner Don Maloney's effort to introduce strategic planning to the city at the commission's Dec. 14 meeting seems to have rubbed Mayor Carol Whitmore the wrong way.

Maloney circulated a memo to commissioners and Whitmore at the meeting about the benefits to the city and residents for strategic planning.

Maloney said he became a strategic planning advocate after attending a one-day seminar at the National League of Cities Training Institute recently.

Strategic planning involves the city deciding on "definite goals, outlining action to accomplish how to get them, and setting responsibility to see that it happens," said Maloney. The process includes the commission, city staff and citizens.

"We've got a lot of work to do," predicted Maloney. Nobody wants to see Holmes Beach become another Marco or Sanibel Island.

He suggested city staff, along with the mayor and commissioners, list goals for the city to accomplish in five or 10 years and how those goals might be achieved.

City residents become involved in the process, he said, by forming groups of five or more representing all different levels of the city, including youths who live in Holmes Beach. Once the top 10 goals have been identified, the "real strategic planning on how to achieve them" takes place, Maloney said in his seven-page memo on the subject.

While the commission took a noncommittal view until it's had a chance to study Maloney's proposal, Whitmore responded to Maloney the next day that she believes the staff is already working on long-range plans, including a five-year capital plan approved by the commission.

In addition, she said, the commission has never addressed the Visioning Plan completed with citizen input last year.

"I got the feeling in your memo that you think our city is on the brink of disaster. Rest assured it is not. Your comments show no faith in my role as an administrator or staff's role. Our staff is the best you're going to get. Look at other local cities and you cannot find more professionalism than in this city," claimed Whitmore.

That's not correct, responded Maloney. "I have said many times that I believe we never would have achieved getting Holmes Beach to where we are without them." He said he was sorry if city staff misinterpreted his remarks, but the purpose of his memo was to "sell strategic planning to our city by providing all in the city - you, the staff, the commissioners and residents - opportunities to join in deciding where we want to go, how to get there, where the responsibility to see that it all happens is placed, and regular reports on how that plan is going."

Without strategic planning, a lot of things never happen, he said.

For example, the Imagine Manatee document produced two years ago by Manatee County is "typical," Maloney said. There are a lot of key elements and actions everybody wants, but no "responsibility to see specifically how the actions have to happen."

Maloney concluded by calling for a meeting with Whitmore on the subject, particularly to ask her why she believes that he thinks the city is on the brink of disaster.

Whitmore said she would arrange such a meeting.

Commission Chairperson Sandy Haas-Martens said that strategic planning would be discussed at a future workshop. "We just got our memo that afternoon before the meeting, so we didn't have time to discuss the issue." Normally, she said, the commission likes to have at least one week to study a memo before discussion at a workshop.

"I'm sure it will be on a future workshop agenda," concluded Haas-Martens.

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