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Chattin, Bemidji City Council: The plan for improvement

A 14-point plan has been developed with the intent of improving the council-manager relationship in Bemidji.

The recommendations were made by Jeffrey Thompson, the principal consultant of Innovations in Quality in Hermantown, Minn.

Eight strategies were presented as recommendations for Chattin:

- Information on key city business and/or issues must be presented to the council in a consistent, timely manner.

- Chattin will hold one-on-one meetings with every city councilor at least twice a year.

- A plan of work will be developed with clear and specific goals and action plans for presentation to the council after a visioning and strategic planning session with the council.

- With the council, Chattin will conduct an analysis on strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats every two years.

- Have the council schedule performance sessions 2-3 times a year to assess, evaluate and adjust work plans.

- Always assess issues and information with the council on a "who needs to know" and "when do they need to know" basis in line with the first recommendation.

- Consensus building will come through building higher levels of trust, comfort in relationships, meeting performance expectations and very open communication and information sharing. Chattin will keep the council fully informed on issues and pending problems and leave it to the members to form a consensus where possible.

- Schedule quarterly progress reporting and accountability sessions with the council to report on the progress of key projects and process and utilize these sessions to discuss progress made on the recommendations in Thompson's report.

Six strategies were presented as recommendations for the City Council:

- Establish a vision for the city of Bemidji with specific strategic initiatives and action plans for how to accomplish them.

- Develop a process for the manager to present a plan of work once the strategic plan is implemented and conduct performance coaching sessions with the manager to map progress. Be clear with the manager, of the leadership initiatives and leadership processes you expect.

- Develop a set of operational principles that will guide current and future councils in problem-solving, communication, information sharing and decision-making.

- Assure that with establishment of the revamped communication processes coming from the manager, every council member makes himself or herself accessible for this enhanced communication.

- Develop and sustain standing committee processes once enhanced trust is established. The work of the council can be more effectively and efficiently accomplished through committees.

- Develop a Leadership Support Committee that will meet on a quarterly basis to assure that the strategies indicated in Thompson's report are being adhered to by both strategies.