Becker responded with a question. "Do you garden?"
Despite the rosy picture painted by The World newspaper, the strategic planning effort undertaken by Commissioner Melissa Cribbins is a bust. Began her first term with a promise of preparing a strategic plan as quickly as possible. “Let’s git ‘er done,” she explained to KCBY. A year later she brought in a strategic planning coach, Vanessa Becker of VConsults.com to teach the commission how to plan who introduced the now infamous story of the jar of big rocks, pebbles, sand and water.
On January 16 I attended the strategic planning work shop in Coos Bay. It was advertised as an opportunity to give our opinion.
We need your input on the Coos County Strategic Plan.
The Board of Commissioners is sponsoring a public meeting to get your valuable opinion on our strategic plan. Please come and give us your feedback.
When I requested a copy of the plan in order to form an opinion, Cribbins informed me that a didn’t yet exist. Two previous meetings had been held, one in Bandon with a total of eight members of the public and four showed up for Myrtle Point. You can watch the Myrtle Point session at Coos Media it is a little over 30 minutes.
Fourteen people began Coos Bay meeting plus a reporter. Both Cribbins and John Sweet were late and Bob Main was out sick leaving Becker, who has been paid more than $14K since she was hired a year ago, to start without them. Becker started by explaining what a plan is by likening it to a vegetable garden and not just casting seeds about wildly. We then heard the jar of rocks story and finally were presented with the “five big rocks” chosen by the commissioners meant to signify priorities. It soon became clear, however, that our “valuable opinion” was to be constrained to the narrow confines of the nonetheless exceedingly general big rocks while ignoring the giant boulder in the middle of the room, “revenue”.
We were given “clickers” to allow us to vote on the smaller pebbles making up the big rocks. Instead of a discussion, we would be allowed to put our opinions and ideas, valuable as they are, on five large sheets denoting each big rock using giant markers. The entire process was even more frustrating than Cribbins’ world cafe meetings which herded everyone like kindergartners from one location to the next.
Some of us tried to ask questions and have an actual discussion given the county is facing dire budget issues and we had hoped for a grown up conversation.
One person tried to ascertain the goal of the plan to which Becker replied, “You have to have a plan.”
Agreed, but to accomplish what?
Becker responded with a question. “Do you garden?”
Becker made it clear, we first had to click our way through predetermined choices and then at the end we would be allowed to write down our contributions. Becker assured us she wouldn’t write the county’s strategic plan until she had gathered public input.
About 20 minutes after it started I decided I didn’t want to participate in something that insults the public intelligence so I got up and my ride joined me. Shortly thereafter, five more people joined us in the parking lot and later I learned that only three stuck it out to the bitter end.
Just one person showed up in Lakeside.
Becker hopes to complete the draft strategic plan by April or May