On Transparency & Leadership
Waltham deserves to have a collaborative Mayor who values the public’s input. We deserve to know what Waltham’s officials are doing in the community and should have many opportunities to share our views. Leadership should not be an insider game.
Now that Waltham no longer has an independent newspaper with unbiased reporting, it is hard to know what city officials are doing. The lack of reliable news sources is made worse as the city administration takes many of its actions in darkness. Here are three examples to demonstrate the lack of transparent or collaborative leadership:
Recent examples include using the Council meetings during the weeks of Christmas and New Years to obtain City Council support for an action that would result in removing a large part of the farmland at the Cornelia Warren Field Station from production.
Another example is asking the public for ideas for Fernald in December 2021, but ignoring most of the ideas presented. The public expected to be able to comment on detailed plans for the front 120 acres at Fernald, but instead, a plan with lots of amusements and 500 parking spaces was passed in a special summer meeting of the Recreation Board. It should be noted that the Recreation Board meeting was held without proper notice. Meeting without giving proper notice violates the Open Meeting Law.
The Master Planning CommitteE
One of the most powerful committees in the Council includes the Mayor. In their last meeting, the Master Planning Committee voted to shut down a potential Bike Committee that would include members of the public. This meeting was not advertised in usual fashion like any other council meeting. Instead, it was advertised through a physical Board outside city hall. In the 21st century, there are many ways to advertise an open meeting including social media and our city website. One could see this as a deliberate approach to not invite members of the public or to avoid public scrutiny. Keep in mind, this meeting was not video recorded.
I bring to the table a leadership style that is collaborative, transparent, and adaptive. As a City Councillor, I have held many city-wide town hall meetings with constituents to inform them of ideas, actions, and plans in Waltham. Most recently, I held a town hall to discuss the recent power surges caused by Eversource given the lack of information provided. With the public's feedback, I was able to request a formal investigation of Eversource by the Department of Public Utilities (DPU). As mayor, I will continue this practice as well as seeking the public’s opinion of major ideas. Transparency requires collaboration.
I’m also well versed in adaptive leadership. As adapted from Harvard Professor Heifetz’s work, “Adaptive leaders welcome differences, are willing to self-correct, display emotional intelligence with their employees and are open-minded.” One example was during the COVID pandemic. I organized with neighbors what became called the Community Resilience Committee (CRC) to research and learn ways that other communities adapted to the public health crisis. Whether it was rental assistance or free covid tests, we began an outreach campaign to inform neighbors in the Southside of resources available to them through the city and nonprofits.
In a change from our current administration, I will lead with ideas and encourage the community to contribute every step of the way. Collaboration - not isolation - is the name of the game!
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