Councilors to get orientation at City Hall

AUBURN — The city will try to lighten up the process of getting city councilors and other elected officials oriented, skipping traditional presentations in favor of a trade-show-style format.

City Manager Clinton Deschene said city departments will set up tables on Auburn Hall's second floor Dec. 5, so councilors and School Committee members can browse from table to table.

"They can just wander around discussing who we are, what the general duties of each department are," Deschene said. "If they want to go in groups, they can. We won't be doing any presentations, because when you consider the size of the city and the time it would take, we could spend the whole year doing them. We just want to get some basic departmental information."

The meeting is public, but Deschene said it's really meant for elected officials to get more familiar with the city. If the format proves to be a success, Deschene said the city may use it for a more public orientation meeting.

"We want this to start small," Deschene said. "If it becomes too large, it may detract from the council's chances to get familiar. These are the people running your city, so help us help them understand what the city is all about so they can make informed decisions."

The city will also publish an orientation book with photographs, organizational charts, budgets and department information. That book will be made public days before the elected officials' meeting.

Deschene said most councilors never received a formal orientation. Deschene hadn't been hired in 2011 when they took office.

"They never felt they had been brought up to speed at any given time," Deschene said. "I talked about doing something quicker and they said no, they'd rather wait until the next term."

The new council — six incumbents and Adam Lee, councilor-at-large elect — will be sworn in Dec. 9 at a ceremony at Edward Little High School, along with Mayor Jonathan LaBonte and the School Committee.

Deschene said he also has scheduled tours for elected officials on Dec. 7, but only two have signed up.

"When I was hired, a couple of councilors said, 'You know, nobody ever showed us around,'" Deschene said. "We can't get to every cemetery in town, but we can certainly drive by a few of the big ones. We just want to show them some of the core stuff."

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ALL school committee members and all councilors except Adam Lee - who is the new Ward 4 Councilor and not at large - have served before. They have all been in city government for at least two years. If they don't know how the city works by now, we are all in trouble. Mr Lee is a capable, intelligent person who can and will ask questions if he needs to do so.

Why do we need to waste the time and money to put on this dog and pony show? If it is being done for the benefit of the community, then okay. But don't waste the department heads' and staff time and money for this event just to enlighten folks who should already know what is going on in city government.

As for the lack of a formal orientation, I guess Mr Deschene is of the opinion that nothing happened in Auburn until he was hired. He must believe we spent the past 160 odd years just wallowing in our own waste waiting for his enlightenment and leadership. We haven't!


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