A favorite guidance directed to our city staff is: "The Five Ps" (Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance).

A good example of illustrating the Five Ps in action took place recently at a Concord City Council workshop, a Saturday morning noticed meeting which drew only two people without an official connection to Concord.

Our recently appointed City Manager Valerie Barone and her staff prepared four recommendations intended as areas of priority focus for the City Council during the next fiscal year. Upon adoption by the council, these recommended goals would become the blueprint for prioritizing the work program for our staff.

Concord is a "general law" city with a strong manager format. This means that our full-time professional staff is responsible for the day-to-day operations, as directed and supervised by the city manager.

The council has the significant responsibility for policy development. In other words, the council tells the city manager and staff what to do, but not how to do it.

It is important for our citizens to be aware of what their elected representatives consider important goals. It is equally important, from my perspective, that the council be in sync with the city manager's concept of operational goals. That is why this workshop was important and why I consider the time spent on this endeavor to be of great value.


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The city manager's recommendations, designed to elicit council discussion, were as follows:

  • Long-term financial stability and economic vitality

  • Infrastructure maintenance

  • Public safety

  • Organizational health and employee success.

    Please note that these four recommendations were like the four legs on a stool. None was more important than any other. Each carried the same weight in terms of importance.

    What I thought was of great significance was that the City Council unanimously agreed that these four goals were of a priority concern. The council and city manager were on the same page. This is a good omen for the coming fiscal year.

    There are 10 city of Concord corporate goals of a long-range nature. They are more specific than the four goals adopted at our workshop and available online.

    However, though not expressly included in the acceptance of the four goals adopted, there were additional concerns expressed by members of the council that are of an immediate nature and can be considered matters of interest that will be addressed during the 2013-2014 fiscal year. They are:

    1. Follow through on current projects with the auto district, the downtown specific plan -- with an emphasis on its economic vitality.

    2. Addressing our budgetary problem concerning unfunded liabilities.

    3. Keeping the former weapons station property development project moving forward.

    4. Figuring out how to solve the problem of homelessness.

    5. Engaging our youth in the process of local government.

    6. Continuing a relationship between the city and the performing arts.

    7. Doing everything we can to support small businesses citywide, and maximizing partnerships with the school district, chamber of commerce, Todos Santos Business Association, the newly acquired hospital district and many others.

    The point is that your City Council and management are together on goals. This is a good thing.

    But we also realize that when our constituents read this, they also accept that we have many other things to address and we know that the challenges are there.

    We are ready, willing and able to meet these challenges.

    Dan Helix is the mayor of Concord. Email him at columns@bayareanewsgroup.com.