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Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Complete "Platform for a 21st Century Hickory"

Below is the complete "Platform for a 21st Century Hickory" as created by Dr. Joseph Inglefield, Joe Brannock, and myself. We encourage others to come forward with their ideas on how to move the community forward. If candidates want to express themselves here, then we will provide a fair platform. Dr. Inglefield and Joe were accused in an advertisement in the Hickory Daily Record a couple of weeks ago of not standing for anything and doing all of this for personal political gain. When you see this detailed platform, you see that nothing could be further from the truth. These are the ideas that can move this community forward.

1) Term Limits - We need to break the cycle of having Mayors and City Council members that serve on the bench for a generation. Thank You for your service, but such a system lends itself to stagnation. We need inspiring leaders to inspire citizens. It is time for fresh new ideas. We need to encourage people to serve on the Council and then move on to seek other offices or other ways to participate in the political system and to turn over the reins to others to create more depth to the community's leadership and varied interests.

2) Independent Boards and Commissions - to lend a non-partisan perspective to the intended purpose/mission of the group. We need policies related to Nepotism and adherence to guidelines of term limits so that members of boards and commissions are not actual proxies of City Council members. We should not see business partners of Council members serving under Council members on Boards, Commissions, and Task Forces where there can be even a perception of a conflict of interest.

3) National Studies and Surveys - that rank us seriously low.  Expedite processes to study how they came to their conclusions and what we need to do to correct the circumstances; including contacting those who created and implemented the study to get their thoughts on what it would take to address the negative issues.  We need to look at improving every year, not regressing or responding to these scientific surveys.

4) An Agenda on Health and Wellness...  The Gallup-Healthway study is a prime example of a valid scientific study that casts a negative light on Hickory. How do we address what this study finds? Dr. Jody Inglefield admits that he doesn't have all of the answers, buts says that is why we need local health professionals to weigh in, but what does stand out is the negative issues this community faces involving health.

5) We need to do what we can to help small business, start up businesses, and local Entrepreneurs move forward. This encourages entrepreneurship, which puts people to work. We will find a way to create and facilitate a microlending-entrepreneurial plan in this community. We think this is a vital mission and purpose that the city's Business Development Commission should embrace.

6) Public Information should be user-friendly, open, and accessible in accordance with North Carolina General Statute 132. We understand that when legal issues and private negotiations related to Economic Development arise that there will be a need to keep certain information secret, but as those issues are resolved that information should be immediately accessible. To the greatest extent possible, information should be available electronically online. When information is from the pre-electronic era, it should be made accessible for a minimal cost (10-cents per page) and within 5 business days of the request being made. The key is that there should not be games played with Public Information.

7) Better Dialogue with the Public - we need all Hickory governmental agencies and their staff to be open, truthful, honest, helpful and transparent. Willing to discuss and carry on open dialogues with the citizens.

8) Non-Profit Agencies applying for funding from or through the city, utilizing City Resources, whether grants or loans, must be willing to open their books and be subject to an audit (if necessary). Agencies, after a defined period (after start-up), would not be able to receive funding in consecutive years from the city.

9) We need new and better defined rules about what constitutes Conflicts of Interest and the ability to construct a Citizen Review Board to look into such matters, since there is a Circular Conflict of Interest in the relationship between the City Manager, Staff, and the Council. And the sanctions issue needs to be clearly defined also. The head of the review board would be the acting city Ombudsman and these people will rotate on and off of this board annually.

10) Empowering Neighborhood Associations to create Community Leaders - We will help to make them, Neighborhood Associations, independent by helping them achieve 501-(c)3 status so that they can have local personal agendas that are tailor made for the characteristics of their micro-community or neighborhoods. We don't want to operate neighborhoods through top-down authority. We want to sow seeds of participation in the neighborhoods from the grass roots, up and into the city's boards and commissions, and helping to create a future City Council that works in the best interests of all its citizens and takes into account every nook and cranny of Hickory.

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