(Times Record (Fort Smith, AR) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Feb. 22--Quarterly meetings designed to foster policy-related discussions by the Fort Smith Board of Directors kick off Monday night.
Directors initially proposed the new "brainstorming meetings" during a two-day retreat at Mount Magazine State Park in July 2013. According to a set of rules established to govern the meetings, "The discussion should be about the 'what' and 'why' questions."
The rules also state they are designed to "allow the mayor and board members to engage in free-flowing discussion on matters of importance to the elected officials." The objective is to "identify new, creative, innovative, breakthrough ways to view and solve problems, issues and concerns."
"What I'd like to see is a general theme of how we can make it easier to do business with the city of Fort Smith," Ward 1 Director Keith Lau said Friday. "What is it? Is it that we are just not communicating the way we should be from a customer-service standpoint, or do we really have processes that are flawed?"
Monday's meeting begins at 6 p.m. at the River Park Events Building, 121 Riverfront Drive.
"I hope it's an hour or less," Lau said. "I just want us to have some concrete ideas we can give to the administration and point their boat in the right direction. That's kind of what I'm looking for."
Other meeting guidelines include:
--Discussion should avoid micro management.
--Everyone is treated as an equal and has equal opportunity during discussion.
--When input is offered, it should not be questioned initially.
--All ideas should be recorded.
--Discussions should be honest and candid.
--Keep an open mind; shut down personal bias.
--Ask anything. Question things you don't understand.
--No side conversations.
--Have an agreed-upon method for reaching consensus, but there is no formal action or voting.
Other brainstorming meetings are scheduled for May 27, Aug. 25 and Oct. 27.
The mayor and directors also host an informal, town hall-style forum following the first regular meeting of the month, in addition to quarterly ward meetings.
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