Sunday nights and Monday nights, my mind usually races before I go to sleep, thinking about upcoming city council meetings. I go through the likely discussion and progress of an agenda item, trying to figure out what every one's self interest is. Who's going to vote yes? Vote no? Which end of the fence will councilor Waffle end up on? And finally, what decision do I feel will be best for Troutdale? What's the right thing to do?
We get our staff reports for upcoming agenda items the Thursday prior to a Tuesday night city council meeting. I reserve Thursday evenings for a slow reading of the staff reports. Over the weekend, I might call folks having an interest in a particular agenda item to solicit their thoughts. I try to get all my questions to staff answered via e-mail well before the meeting.
For issues dealing with changes in Troutdale municipal code or our development code, I'll crank them open and compare the facts being presented with current local code. I'll go online and see how other cities have dealt with an issue. I'll write on this blog, just kind of free-form, just to see where my thoughts go.
I'll bounce ideas off of the Mrs., who is just as opinionated as I am. (When we REALLY disagree on an issue, which is often, she always laughs and says she'll run against me at the next election. And then she stops using my first name, and calls me just "Canfield", as in "Canfield, you're right, of course, even when you're wrong."
Preparation is the key to making an informed decision. It really bugs me when councilors admit they haven't read the staff reports prior to a meeting. Their lack of preparation makes for longer meetings and poor decision making. Their endless questions to staff drag the meetings out until 11pm or longer. It isn't fun getting up at 5am the morning after a council meeting that lasted until 1am.
When I come home from a council meeting, I'm always pretty wired. It's useless to go right to bed. So I'll write drafts of future blog entries. Or pick up my most recent Atlantic, Harpers, or Sports Illustrated. I did the same thing in school. After weeks of reading dry, boring, tedious material, and especially after midterms or finals, it was such a rush to have time to read something just for fun.
Last night, we actually finished a little before 9pm. It was a miracle, I tell you! When I got home, the Mrs. was on the phone. She saw me come in the front door and her face turned to shock. "What are you doing here?", she asked. Amazing. . . . It feels so good when you know your wife is glad to see you when you come home!