Friday, November 12, 2021

City Council, November 15th - Policy Agenda and Priorities Work Session

Monday Council meets for a formal Work Session on "Progress report on 2021 City Council Policy Agenda and major Citywide initiatives."

The progress report may be losing its way, however.

We can take a smaller detail as an example. Far into the report it talks about updating the walking and biking chapters of the Transportation System Plan. But it is silent on whether we are actually improving bike and pedestrian safety and inducing greater numbers of walking and biking trips.

An update could be good

The annual report needs metrics. What are we measuring, and are we actually improving on the outcome any policy is designed to affect?

We are failing badly on walking and biking
(Our Salem, June 2019 - not in this report)

Why aren't these indicators from a couple of years ago included in the annual report? We lost them in Our Salem, and we've lost them in other applications where they would in fact be useful.

The annual report isn't reporting on progress very much if we aren't discussing the relevant details. Across most areas in the report it is greatly hampered by the lack of metrics. It prefers to focus on process and procedure. Since it doesn't measure anything, it is free to make unsupported claims and to act as if procedural improvements in fact yield the desired outcomes out in the real world.

These claims are objectively false

We see this in a broader way on the Climate Action Plan. The progress report is far too anodyne, asserting mere words as action, accomplishment where reality is only expression of hope and desire.

Too anodyne on "taking action"

There is no plausible way to describe the draft Climate Action Plan as "Achieving Climate Action Plan Goals." It is far from achieving the goals. The primary thing it accomplished was saying "we intend to accomplish these goals" and "by saying we intend to accomplish these goals, we have in fact achieved these goals." It confuses words with action badly, and may do so by design, actively trading on this. It is not very honest.

And it is the lack of metrics that allows for this slippage.

You will find other examples in other areas of the progress report. It is a general problem.

Yes, we should talk about branches more

In other areas, it was nice to see the possibility of branch libraries at least mentioned, and the City should consider working more closely with Cherriots to consider co-locating a branch library wherever Cherriots sites a new South Salem Transit Center.

I know this is mission creep, but maybe there should also be an affordable housing component.

The City should be more intentional about coordinating with Cherriots in order to find areas where mutual interests can leverage greater success.

1 comment:

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Over on FB they observe that this week the "Salem Public Library Advisory Board...unanimously pass[ed] a motion at their meeting this week asking the City Council to include two new branch libraries in NE and S/SE Salem in the 10-year infrastructure bond measure proposed for the November, 2022 ballot" (with video clip).

So maybe there is interest gathering for branch libraries. That is great to see.