The town is excellent shape. We are doing well. And I disagree with a recent letter stating that we need more meetings to make things even better. You already know I come from a business background. The plague of the corporate world is the endless hamster wheel of pointless meetings. I believe we need less talk, more action.
The results are in.
To see how Grand Island compares to other towns, I also decided to compile some data about meetings. Oddly, Grand Island’s Town Board has MORE meetings than other towns. Here’s the breakdown:
○ Tonawanda: population 73,567, meetings 14
○ Lancaster, population 41,604, meetings 14
○ Grand Island: population 20,374, meetings 34
The results are the same beyond this sample. Grand Island has more meetings than towns both larger and smaller than ours across the region. After seeing the data, I can’t help but think maybe we need less meetings, not more.
We proved a point.
Since our supposed lack of meetings was a problem, however, I decided to prove a point. I scheduled a heavy load of meetings last week with a comprehensive agenda, bringing in each department head to discuss key points from their work.
Though I scheduled the meetings to pacify the board, it ended up being a productive day. I might even do this annually. It was a good, open demonstration of how the town is actually operating.
What was exceptionally clear is that the Town is running well, with more energy than ever before.
In less than two years, we have done so much. Old buildings are being restored, parks established and protected, greedy developers rejected. The welcome mat saying “more apartments please” is gone. Plus, we are passing legislation that matters, like term limits, solar law, and more.
And it’s all on tape. Everyone is aware of what we are doing. And people from as far away as Seattle, Washington, and Colorado are writing me to say, “Keep it up!” This town is not just transparent for local standards; we are setting national standards.
Build each other up.
So yes, exciting things are happening on Grand Island. From department heads to the councilmen, there is consensus on that point. At least that was the consensus expressed after we completed our recent meetings last week. But where can we improve?
There are some departments that need more change. In some instances, the ways things have been done for years need to be re-examined and improved. And I know we need pay raised to retain staff at the Golden Age Center. That center provides essential services to this Town.
But we also need something else. We need to create better and more efficient Town Board. I’ve tried. But I must try harder.
A Small Town
This is a small town made up of mostly good people—very good people. And those very good people are mostly talking about local issues, not Washington politics. I want no part of a proxy war for some Washington politician I’ve never met or some ideology I’ve only read about in books. I care about this place, here and now.
I care about Grand Island. I’m passionate about it. And because I’ve pushed my passion, we’ve have had the many successes I talked about. But I need the Town Board to feel as though they’re part of it. So, I must add another goal to my list. We need to upgrade the behavior of our Town Board, and I must lead the way.
A Tough Task
Harmony will not be any easy goal to accomplish. I only control myself. And even that’s hard to do when someone is saying something boldly that I know is just not true. Specifically, there is one councilman who I fear I will never see eye to eye with. I’ve tried. You can invite an alligator over for tea and crumpets, but he’s still going to want to eat your dog. And we just need to accept that. It is what it is. And it would be Pollyanna and insincere of me to assume otherwise given the history of behavior.
But I have gained respect and rapport for the other members of the Town Board. I have said as much in these letters. We fought. We have been mutually disappointed. But we believe, I hope, that deep down most of the Town Council is working for the same goal—a better Grand Island (hopefully with less meetings!).
Shout out to Eric
Hats off to Eric Fiebelkorn for defending the Comprehensive Plan update. This process is one I’m proud to be part of; it’s unbelievably transparent and well thought out. We just need more people to be there. And having Eric Fiebelkorn (a volunteer) stick his neck out multiple times (on this and a number of other issues) has not gone unnoticed by me. He’s doing what’s right, not what’s convenient. Thank you, sir!
Supervisor Nate McMurray