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League of Minnesota Cities works with City Council on communicating effectively

Class was in session for a packed house at Monday’s city of Glencoe Personnel and Legislative Committee meeting. Pam Whitmore, a representative from the League of Minnesota Cities, presented advice in effective communication as a result of, at the risk of sounding repetitive, dysfunctional City Council meetings.
The powerpoint entitled, “City Government and You!” was a 21⁄2-hour long lecture jam-packed with name tags, activities, helpful advice, and team-oriented problem solving.
The only difference in language between this meeting and other government meetings was a female moderator and general snide remarks as opposed to personal attacks (because saying “you” was outlawed at the beginning of the session, although that didn’t stop some).
Committee members’ first task was to write why they chose to become a city official on the back of their name tags. Here are some of their answers: to serve the people of Glencoe, to change Glencoe for the better, to give back to the community, and career advancement. Their responses were written down and taped to the podium at the front of the room.
Next, they had to write down the biggest barriers or frustration facing them as staff members on a post-it note. Then they had to stick it in a corresponding category for everybody to see. The most substantial sum of post-it notes voiced a general lack of trust amongst each other, as well as collapsed dialogue.
The irony of the meeting was apparent and multidimensional. Though the staff was there to possibly resolve conflict and make efficiency changes, public and staff still couldn’t seem to behave. When one council member or senior employee would try to share some of their concerns, other attendees were slowly shaking their heads in disapproval; public and staff alike.
At one point, a member of the public vehemently hoisted his hands and feet in the air while sitting, in a flamboyant display of a feeling of victory over the prospect of adding public input on the agenda for City Council meetings. Another public attendee could be heard scoffing whenever Mayor Randy Wilson and City Administrator Mark Larson would talk.
For more from the committee meeting, see the June 13 print edition of The Chronicle.