Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Residents' Value System

Article modified 11-14-08 to include readers comments provided here and in email. 

Ongoing governance series in this blog: 
1. The Road to Governance - short description of the process 
2. Governance in a Nutshell - list of issues and thoughts about those issues 
3. Governance September Forum - my take on the public forum in September 
4. Meet the TCID Board - provided by each member of the TCID board for us to meet 
5. Panel Discussion- Discussion of the issues 
6. The Decision
7. Congratulations to The Woodlands
8. Value System for May Election - a process of determination. This article!
9. Candidates' qualifications and map into the value system. Meet the candidates!
10. And my vote  is .... and why
11. Election news
12. Election Results - what is the prognosis from here?
12. Look back on what happened. Did we do the right thing? Scheduled to be published in 2009.

The residents of The Woodlands need to be thinking about what agenda and platform they would like to see in the five elected representatives on the TCID board. The election in May will be here faster than a speeding bullet! Already we have two candidates announcing their intent to run for available positions. Both of them are on the current board. These two candidates' terms end in May, and they want to be among those who determine our present and future. This article addresses only our value system, not any specific candidates, nor any projects. Those will be articles for the near future. This is authored in the hope that we generate a wise  comparative frame from which to choose candidates. Each candidate can have different strengths and weaknesses, but the combined elected group should be a working team. If there is a left hand, there should also be a right hand. To understand the team, we also need to review the qualifications and characteristics of those who will remain on the board until 2010.

I am looking at this in two ways which tie together-

1) What systemic values (click) do we as residents want to guard and what other values do we need to promote? (this article)

2) What is the candidates' position or inclination to act on these values?

Measuring a candidate:

This is a starter for the measuring table in my mind, for which I am beginning to write:


Candidate 1
Supporting resident values
that make our community unique (value system above)
Takes a stand on the values presented above. We know where the candidate stands relative to our local values system
Personal style of leadership i.e., presents an example, get things done, asks questions before leaping to conclusions, walks the talk,  ...
"Teamsmanship" Works well with others, not a loner. Encourages credit for the team
Integrity Walks the talk, does what what has been promised in concert with the support of others. 
Communicative Keeps public aware of major issues and stand on issues, not secretive or protective in spirit
Inclusive behavior Shares ideas, concerns, responsibility for decisions
Independent and creative thinking Not afraid to speak out for or against ideas or actions. Is considered a credible resource for ideas and solutions.
Appreciates and leverages the diversity of people and customs Understands and verbalizes, when appropriate, that not everyone sees the world the same for many reasons. Openly shows respect for others and willingness to listen regardless of race, creed, or ethnic background.  


Value System 

I am noting my values here as a starter. These are probably incomplete and certainly not intended to be prioritized (yet). Other residents  may have different value systems than I, but they may not be all that different. I am inviting residents to contribute their ideas so that I can include them in this blog. You can express yourself openly as blog comments or privately via email (click).  I am turning off the blog moderation process for this topic. This article addresses only item #1 above. It forms a framework around which we can determine candidates to be fit to govern us or not. If the candidates do not support our values, how can we possibly put them into office? I believe this is a significant part of the measuring stick for the elections.

I value these amenities:
a. Fishing on a pond or a lake. Kayaking without interference from motor boats. 
b. Walking and running the dog 
c. Running and biking on the trails safely 
d. Swimming in a neighborhood pool 
e. Seeing a vast amount of trees and natural vegetation everywhere I go - the living forest!
f. Enjoying wildflowers in spring and throughout the year 
h. Seeing fireflies, butterflies, resident birds, migratory birds, squirrels, Coyotes, Deer, Hummingbirds, Bald Eagles, Raccoons and other small creatures living in and passing through the forest. The food supply, control of pesticides and many other conditions contribute to their health and presence.
i. Hearing the birds sing. Hearing silence, especially at night. 
j. Having constructive, recreational activities for our children so they are raised to appreciate the world about them. 
k. Safe roads with safe drivers so our family and friends are not maimed in our neighborhoods.
l. Village activities - social gatherings and local projects shared by neighbors.

These values are supported by the following:

  1. Assets to protect. For these I pay my association assessments.
    a. Forest. Save as many trees as possible. Reforest as much as possible. Control the vines and continue to keep the trees healthy. See if we can better control the spread of disease and not lose so many of our large pines. Enforce the tree cutting regulations better. 
    b. Paths. Continue to build and expand as we go forward with build-out of the community. Occasionally remove algae and mold. Keep them safe enough to jog, walk and ride bikes.
    c. Parks. Maintain them, improve them, protect them. Park Rangers are a big help to this end.
    d. Recreational areas - keep them close enough so that the kids can walk to them and clean enough for health and safe havens for summertime family fun. Subsidize them if need be, but do not make all families carry the cost burden for just a few people. 
    e. Ponds and lakes - keep the bodies of water supporting ecosystems that include fish and maintain the chemistry and vegetation around and in them, enough so that our dogs can drink the water without us being paranoid about it.
    f. Roads - keep and add to the trees alongside and in the median of major streets. Occasionally remove the algae and mold.
    g. Buildings and other assets- sufficient office space and class space to support educating residents in the sensible ways of living in the forest and promoting a diverse and healthy natural ecology. Keep The Woodlands a place for us to be proud to live and play. The Pavilion and Convention centers are important components  of The Woodlands; the Convention Center is also important.
    h. Others-  almost everything the Park and Recreation dept has is valued by residents. How about the garden plots? They were created to encourage residents to not kill trees in favor of gardening! A garden needs a lot of light that is not available in a thick forest.
  2. Services to safeguard. For these I pay my association assessments.
    a. Excellent fire fighting and emergency services
    b. Around the clock police protection and traffic control
    c. Park Ranger patrols
    d. Neighborhood Watch
    e. Enforcement of deed restrictions
    f. Village Associations
    g. Garbage and trash pickup
    - we need to expand recycling practices and provide an option to residents for added recycling pickup.
  3.  Environment to protect and improve - this is why I live here
    Air - we must consider the air we breathe as a very important part of our environment. With added traffic on our main arteries, we are polluting the air, so it is worthwhile to understand the effects of  the traffic on our health. We must keep a watchful eye the air for contaminants.
    Water - we must monitor and report the condition of the water that our children, animals and ourselves play in, especially the ponds and lakes.
    Sound - if we cannot appreciate our values through site and sound, we do not have some significant amenities that we value. Road noise, truck air horn blasts, truck vibrations, garbage truck pickup trucks, delivery trucks, motorcycles are all sound nuisances. Managing that which we hear is highly important. 
    Sight - in public places and along our roads, we should see the forest, the animals, not big buildings, nor shopping centers, nor concrete and steel, nor signs, nor trash.  
    Smellthe forest has its own smell. Let's keep it that way. No pot along the walkways or in shopping centers or any other foul smelling drugs or garbage in public areas.
  4. Finances to manage with wise strategies- it costs money to have what we value.
    Tax rates and appropriations - appropriate and prudent financials is a requirement for governing. Many of us can afford to have the amenities we demand but are willing to forego some amenities that are not valued so highly. The whole of The Woodlands is for the good part of the parts, and the parts are for the good of the whole. Do not be over thrifty nor be spending unwisely. Our thrifty household finances are expected to be honored by the governing body but at the same time, we expect the money to be used to obtain the goals we set out to meet.
    Debts - we do not want to be a community of large long term debt. We need to be nimble in what we finance, but also need to be in a position to do what we need to do when the opportunity arises. I see projects in the villages down the road a bit. We will have certain debts at the onset and of course must include that base as we go forward.
    c. Partnering with the development company - we need to include the development company as a partner in these values. The ability of a candidate to work with the development company to achieve our goals is imperative. 
    d. Partnering with contractors - we need to continue to write and execute contracts with our values in mind. Performance of contracts must include the strict adherence to our value system.
  5. Desired personal qualities of an elected official - we want excellence on the leadership team. We expect it at work, in school and now in government.
    a. Has integrity - does what the candidate promises and is guided by a known value system. This provides the residents with a template of reasonable performance expectations by  the candidate, as a representative of the residents.
    b. Creative thinker - does not rely totally on the ideas of others.
    c. Questions direction, consistence of purpose. Seeks to understand the concepts before supporting or rejecting proposals.
    d. Practical - seeks solutions that are financially prudent and can be accomplished within a reasonable time.
    e. Strategic thinker - sees into the future with long term goals and makes/supports plans accordingly.
    f. Listens to the residents, speaks for them instead of to them. Understands that residents are also very astute on important matters and often are closer to the issues than the candidate.

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