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Strategic planning town halls a bust

Becker responded with a question. "Do you garden?"

Strategic planning town halls a bust

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 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

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About magix

When my oldest son, a Marine, left for war and crossed the border from Kuwait into Iraq in March 2003 I started writing my conscience. After two tours that young combat veteran’s mother is now an ardent peace activist and advocate for social, environmental and economic justice. MGx has matured since those early vents and ramblings and now covers relevant and important local and regional matters in addition to national and global affairs.


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5 Responses to "Strategic planning town halls a bust"

  1. fred  January 24, 2015 at 4:35 PM

    I would have departed long before you. How silly, a clicker. Why are the people of Coos County paying an advertised professional who writes plans and who must wait for input from the people before she can write a plan. Any high school gradgatoot can write a plan. The first draft may be meaningless. Lets save $14K or more. And, Cribbins should have known long before seeking the peoples vote three years ago that those who fail to plan, plan to fail. Where has she been for three years. Where is no plan B Sweet? And, worst of all, where has Main, who I believe has gone over to the dark side, been for at least five years?

    • the reminder  January 25, 2015 at 7:26 AM

      Was it five years ago when Main came out of the back room escorting Cam Parry and Fred Messerle to their appointed chairs that a few of the county elite decided for us in lieu of an election? Main has sat beside four LNG commissioners and they have all failed to live up to their promises to those outside the Jordan Cove circle . Shouldn’t he have been able to steer them all as neophytes? He hasn’t, he has gone with the flow they provided. At best he’s played the good cop for their schemes by voting opposite and offering light verbal protest when he’s starting to look like he may be one of the insiders. He’s a survivor as he demonstrated by edging out Messerle when the tribe tried to blindside him. Bob Main works mainly for Bob Main.
      I wonder how many clickers did Coos County buy in preparation for these meetings and were the participants allowed to keep the clickers as souvenirs or a consolation prize so they could at least say they got something out of going They should hand out those clickers at all these types of psyops meetings taking place on behalf of jordan cove.

    • magix  January 25, 2015 at 3:51 PM

      Perhaps if there were hundreds of even dozens of people present, the clicker might have made sense. The low attendance should have invited more intimacy assuming the commission really cares what the public thinks.
      Cribbins also advised that contingency planning must wait until the strategic plan is complete.

      The whole thing reminds of a story my ex tells where he once asked his mother if he was “planned.” She answered, “Yes! The minute we found out you were coming we started planning.”

  2. Themguys  January 24, 2015 at 1:36 PM

    I don’t often cross you M, but really? There was a “reporter” there? I think not. There IS no ‘reporting’ going on in this county. A stenographer does not make a reporter. Reporting is what Ted Sickinger does. I don’t know how to effect change without an open, free press to inform the citizens of ANY community. I thank all of you speaking out, taking time to respond to what is going on around us.

  3. the reminder  January 24, 2015 at 10:04 AM

    So “the big rocks of life” didn’t impress anyone, not too surprising since they could have gotten that spiel for free from the internet or even youtube. Sounds like a success story for the presenter. 14k will buy lots of petrol to pass gas. I think I even heard that story back in bootcamp or maybe it was in the boy scouts. The “making notes” part of this sounds like a ford family presentation.
    Looks like Cribbins and Sweet do have a plan, its to hire lobbyist and inspirational speakers to tell them that they should hire a county administrator to make decisions and take the pressure off themselves, they will wait for the written recommendations from Becker before they announce something similar. Playing games and wasting tax dollars on things like this are indeed inspirational.
    It’s also obvious that the biggest rock for them to clog the jar with was JCEP. That’s the only rock they are focused on. They don’t care what else gets added to the jar as long as they get to stick JC in there first.


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