Why Won't Some of Our Council Members Answer this Simple Question?

This post expresses the views and opinions of the author(s) and not necessarily that of The Clifton Times management or staff.

I asked what success looks like in Clifton, I was told to watch the budget meeting.

On March 21, I spoke at the City Council meeting to share my concern that they are considering raising taxes after two years of surpluses, and to offer some solutions. I was very clear that I was not going to just complain, I came to be positive and productive. I recommended that they determine a vision statement and KPIs (key performance indicators) so that we can not only align around a common vision, they can use the KPIs in performance reviews to measure success, justify raises, and avoid confusion with the public. I run workshops to help team building for a living, so I offered to volunteer my time to help them work out those concepts. You can read my full speech HERE.

I concluded by asking each of our councilors to answer the following question during their time - “What does success look like in Clifton?”

Most of our council had answers that were aligned.

Mary Sadrakula - “Accountability and taking action”

Bill Gibson - “Evaluations and transparency”

Tony Latona - Accountability, everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect, transparency, checks and balances.

Rosemary Pino - Discussed initiatives she had tried in her first term that had been voted down such as rotating committees and performance reviews.

Joe Kolodziej was absent from the dais.

The remaining two didn’t answer the question “what does success look like in Clifton?”

Lauren Murphy answered, “Lily, to you, I’m not sure if you watched the budget meetings on television, but I suggest you do that.” She also suggested that numbers had been thrown around, but 8 points was not likely. While helpful, I never mentioned an 8 point tax increase during my speech. I asked what success looks like in Clifton. (click HERE to read or watch HERE at 1:43:34, Lauren Murphy at 2:40:38)

Mayor Ray Grabowski’s answer concerned me the most. It wasn’t that our mayor didn’t answer the question or address me at all, it was what he chose to say instead. “I know everyone wants the transparency and they like that the budget meetings are now televised. The problem with that is, we televise it so that people at home can be informed, and watch and see how the process works, not to misinform the public before we even finish the budget meetings…We don’t mind people being involved in stuff, but you’re here to watch, to learn, and enjoy the process and see how it works.” (watch HERE at 2:52:56)

But that’s not how democracy works, Mayor Grabowski.

The folly of our city’s communication is not to be blamed on the people who live here. You can work WITH social media instead of work against it. Prevent misinformation by posting on the Clifton page, “Taxes are still on the table in our budget conversations. Come to the next council meeting to share your ideas.”

We, the people of Clifton, elect a council to make decisions that we hope will be in our best interest. Meetings are public and/or televised so that if we feel that our government is not working in our best interest, we can speak our minds freely. We can speak at City Council meetings with the hopes that they will change their minds.

I’m not sure I can “watch and enjoy” our council and its employees getting scammed out of our tax dollars multiple times. I’m not sure I can “watch and enjoy” our council discussing raising taxes with a surplus and without making any cuts to the current budget.

I love living in Clifton. I love my neighbors and friends that I’ve made here. But I also don’t want to be priced out of my family’s home if I see inefficiencies with how our taxes are being managed. And I’m not going to wait until the budget is finalized before I speak my mind.

So continuing to stay positive and productive, I would still like to hear Councilwoman Murphy and Mayor Grabowski's answer my question -

What does success look like in Clifton?

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