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Ahmann turns his sights to strategic planning

WILLMAR — Willmar City Council member Steve Ahmann wants the Labor Relations Committee which he chairs to begin the task of strategic planning which he says the council didn’t accomplish at its Nov. 22-23 retreat.

“I want to send a message to the folks out there: We are going to finish our job. It’s important for the public to know that despite the different personalities on the council, that we do have an objective to get accomplished,’’ Ahmann said.

“We have a task at hand and we need to get the task done. We owe that to our citizens to prioritize our issues and nail down the topics that we didn’t get accomplished at the retreat,’’ he said.

Ahmann, who describes himself as task-oriented, expressed his intent at the Dec. 2 council meeting. Ahmann said he wants the committee to do everything that he said the retreat facilitator failed to accomplish, which is reaching consensus on strategic goals, long-term capital improvements and prioritizing those improvements.

 “There are others, but those are the primary ones. The key thing is that somebody has to step up and say, ‘Hey, we didn’t finish our homework.’ It’s time to get our homework done and let’s go do it,’’ he said.

“Regardless of whose fault it was, the fact of the matter is it wasn’t finished. It didn’t get accomplished. We were all anticipating that this was going to be a good facilitator with a real good consensus builder. It just didn’t happen. So we’re going to get the job done,’’ he said.

During the Dec. 2 meeting, Ahmann said the council did not have adequate time at the retreat due to the facilitator losing track and direction in facilitating the meeting.

In an interview, the Tribune asked Ahmann how the facilitator, Carl Neu Jr. of Neu and Company of Lakewood, Colo., lost track and direction.

“I won’t comment on that. I’m not going to critique the guy. He pretty much knows,’’ Ahmann said.

The Tribune emailed Neu for comment. Neu replied, “I wish Mr. Ahmann success in his effort.’’

At the end of the 1½-day retreat, Neu declared the council and mayor were dysfunctional and incapable of setting goals and a vision due to deep-seated personality differences and beliefs.

Over time, said Neu, the council and some of its members had developed a very deep set of beliefs and practices which in the long run have contributed to the council becoming progressively dysfunctional in carrying out its role.

The Tribune asked Ahmann if the Labor Committee is the appropriate committee for the job. Ahmann said yes because the committee deals with labor issues. He said there will be plenty of time to get input from everybody.

He said the committee won’t take on the entire role. But discussion has to start with some committee and he thinks Labor will be the appropriate place.

“The whole thing on strategic planning and long-term planning is a labor issue because we’re dealing with all the different aspects of the city. That’s the primary focus,’’ he said.

“What I’m going to try to do is bring everybody back together again in a series of smaller settings, dealing with specific issues rather than trying to get it all done at one task because we’re all part-time people here,’’ he said.

David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150