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The Effective Planning Commissioner

Another Meeting?

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"Another meeting? I sure didn't expect the commission to be that busy!"

"If I had known what I was getting into, I never would have let the mayor talk me into this."

"You'll just have to count me out next Wednesday. It's my bowling night".

If these or similar comments are such a familiar refrain that meetings are plagued by spotty attendance or lackluster participation, your planning board has a serious problem. Even the most diligent members must be absent sometimes, but this should be the exception not the rule. Following are examples of board members who exhibit such behavior and suggestions for what can be done about it.

Rejects special meetings. This member is willing to attend most or all scheduled meetings but balks at extra ones, even though the rest of the board may think it is essential. She may be a very organized person who allots only so much time to each activity and does not want to give her planning role one hour more than she "signed up for." Or she may be just marginally interested in the position. If you ignore her needs with surprise or sudden meetings, you probably will have to put up with her absence. She might agree to attend an extra meeting once in a while, if it is set in advance so she has sufficient time to adjust her schedule. On the other hand, it is important to discipline yourselves and not have a regular habit of calling extra meetings. This is a disservice to all volunteer commissioners. ...

End of excerpt

photo of Elaine CoganElaine Cogan, founding principal of the Portland, Oregon planning and communications firm of Cogan Owens Cogan, has consulted for more than 36 years with communities undertaking strategic planning and visioning processes. Cogan has been honored for her work on a variety of citizen involvement projects.

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