Schttet das Kind mit dem Bade aus was a phrase that originated in Germany in the early sixteenth century. The Theologian, Thomas Murner, used the expression to warn against reckless change or reform. We use this expression today but in the more recognisable form of "don't throw the baby out with the bathwater."
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I am concerned that council is currently about to do something that will be an example of this idiom.
On 27 January 2022, councillors unanimously supported a Notice of Motion for "the implementation of these committees and working parties for this term of council." As a result, we held a workshop and decided upon 16 community committees. These were formally resolved at the council meeting on 26 May 2022. Expressions of Interest were advertised from 30 May through to 17 June and then, after a selection of committee members, the first meetings for these committees started being held from late August 2022 onwards. At the council meeting on 25 August 2022 one additional committee was added to take the total to 17.
Despite the initial resolution determining that these committees were to be formed for "this term of council" there was a further recommendation in March 2022 that the committees "be reviewed in 2023 as to their effectiveness and sustainability, with a report provided to Council in October 2023."
It is that report that will be considered by council this week that concerns me. The recommendation by our staff is to reduce the number of committees. By how many? That is a complicated question. These committees have been operating for just over a year now.
Are they all working perfectly? It would be hard pressed to say that any organisation had every component working perfectly so I would say that, after reading the review, there is certainly room to improve the operation of these committees. But removing these committees is not the answer to improving the operation.
There are times when we don't have a quorum or the community members don't feel as engaged as we would like. I believe we need to look internally and make sure we have the right membership on these committees. Ensure we plan the timing of these meetings and the engagement with these committee members so we do end up with a quorum and our community members are keen and able to attend these meetings.
The mere fact that these committees exist and that community members are on these committees sends a very strong signal that this council encourages community participation in our decision making processes and we definitely want to hear feedback. A drastic reduction in the number of these committees sends completely the opposite message.
I believe the intent from councillors from the March 2022 resolution was to review the committees - but not to cut the number of committees.
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