News from Patrick Flynn

Some reflections

As my Assembly tenure comes to a close I thought I’d share some things I think I’ve learned during the years:

  • Anchorage has a fascinating history, particularly how it developed and the how its governance evolved. Learning it helps provide context that informs to this very day. Some of the sources I’ve tapped include “Get Mears” and others regarding the transition from federal to local control, changes wrought by World War II development, the Charter commentary and Dave Rose’s biography.
  • Speaking of the Charter, the Bill of Rights includes protection of the citizenry from Assembly actions after midnight – sheer genius!
  • Similarly, the Assembly doesn’t make its best decisions at late hours. If you vote to extend a meeting beyond the code’s 11 pm deadline you better have a very good reason.
  • If your packet and associated materials, piled onto your passenger seat en route to a meeting, sets off the seat belt alarm do two things; fasten the passenger seat belt so you don’t have to listen the audio alarm for the trip and, steel yourself for a long night.
  • Community councils are a great forum for discussing and vetting ideas. That said, and some will take offense at this, but here goes; an idea supported, or opposed, by a community council is not necessarily good or bad. For any number of reasons many of your neighbors do not participate in the community council process and their thoughts have merit as well.
  • Do not conduct important conversations via e-mail/Facebook/text/etc. – they’re tragically flawed in that they cannot capture the nuance of in-person or, at least, phone communication.
  • It’s appropriate to politely respond to e-mails from those with opinions who differ from yours. If, after you acknowledge their comments they choose to get belligerent, it’s okay to conclude the conversation.
  • There’s no point in arguing with anyone who presumes you’re a congenital idiot or on the take. Almost nothing you say will disabuse them of their notions.
  • Don’t shy away from respectful, robust discussions with those who have opposing viewpoints. Their thoughts may very well strengthen and improve your ideas, even if you ultimately agree to disagree, and may even help evolve your approach.
  • The municipality is blessed with a number of hard-working, talented employees. If you keep their confidences, they will help you navigate the minutiae of local governance.
  • (Related) Never burn a source – that includes people outside government.
  • If you don’t have public, third-party, verification of a factual statement you’d like to make, don’t make it. It may be true, but someone else has to attest to that fact as well.
  • When in doubt, vote no. It’s easier to re-do than undo.
  • No matter their ideology, every Assembly member wants what’s best for our community. You’d be surprised how often you can find common ground and work with someone you’re “supposed” to shun.
  • You are most effective when something gets accomplished and no one has any idea you had anything to do with it.
  • Never take anything personally.
  • Remember that most of the people who contact you do not enjoy the level of information available to you.
  • Never miss a chance to keep your mouth shut.
  • Take the job seriously; yourself, not so much.

Good luck to all those in pursuit of the opportunity to serve in local office, and goodness help those who succeed!



This contribution was made on Thursday, 09. February 2017 at 20:04 and was published under the category Other. You can follow comments on this entry through the RSS-Feed.

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