Steamboat Springs City Council shows lighter side at retreat
February 4, 2014
Steamboat Springs — At some point between Tony Connell getting picked on for wearing ties and Kenny Reisman getting called out for his habit of eating behind the dais, it was apparent Tuesday's Steamboat Springs City Council meeting wasn't an ordinary one.
The council showed a different, more relaxed side as it sat down for a four-hour planning session with local facilitator and motivational speaker Todd Musselman.
In between some of their more serious discussions, the members joked.
They even were self-deprecating at times.
Musselman quizzed the council about everything from how they view themselves as council members to what they think they could do differently to make their future council meetings more productive.
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It wasn't an earth-shattering meeting, by any means.
But it did lay the groundwork for some future discussions that could have big implications for the council and the city.
The most immediate results, however, will be more subtle.
Council members resolved to no longer glance at their cellphones at meetings or have side conversations during the action.
And eating will be more limited.
They also walked away from the meeting having gotten to know one another personally a bit more and ready to embark on what is expected to be a busy year.
"We all love this place," new council member Scott Ford said. "And I think we're starting to get to know each other better."
Still looming for this council are answers to several questions they raised during the retreat.
How often should the council use executive sessions?
What goals should they set for the next two years?
How can council meetings become less verbose?
And how can the council itself become less of a body that simply approves things to one that drives policy?
"It's like we need another venue," council member Scott Myller said. "I want more policymaking. I know our staff would love a lot more policy. They would love for us to meet as a group in executive session and give them some direction and say stuff like, 'Let's not (build a police station in) Rita Valentine Park.' Right now, they're just throwing darts."
Asked by Musselman whether they viewed themselves as leaders or stewards, council members said they needed to be both.
Sonja Macys asked her fellow council members whether they or city staff is "driving the bus."
The question led to a broader discussion about the council's leadership role.
Reisman said he thought it ebbs and flows based on how popular an idea or policy is.
Macys said it should depend on the financial implications of the decision.
While many questions went unanswered Tuesday, the council is slated to resume the planning session with Musselman for another four hours in the near future.
At that meeting, they are expected to focus on goal-setting and to tackle some of the broader issues raised.
All of the council members said they found the first half of the retreat worthwhile.
"I enjoyed slowing down and having the opportunity to talk," council President Bart Kounovsky said.