Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Supes, Staff Envision The Best For Solano

Supes, Staff Envision The Best For Solano
By Julie Kay/Staff Writer

Solano County's top government leaders combined their highest priorities with their best thinking Tuesday during a Strategic Planning Retreat focused on the county's future.

About 75 leaders, including the board of supervisors and the county's department heads, attended the meeting. There, they chose areas of importance, then considered innovative, "frame-breaking" approaches to those issues.

This, said Supervisor John Vasquez, gave leaders an opportunity to look at going above and beyond what leaders may already be doing.

"How do you get past that thinking of the things you've been doing and do it in a different way to leverage it more and provide a greater amount of service to more people?" he said.

The morning began with a look at the existing strategic plan leaders have developed for the county, whose four main goals are improving community members' health and well-being, ensuring responsible and sustainable land use, maintaining a safe community, and investing in the future.

The leaders then chose a handful of areas of particular importance or opportunity to focus on, with outcomes likely impacting one or multiple areas. Those included creating neighborhood-based services, promoting healthy lifestyles, revamping the jail system, and working on the general plan, emergency services, leadership, customer service, and public transportation.

Participants broke into five groups to tackle individual topics and come up with innovative approaches to those areas

Board Chairman Mike Reagan said the planning session represented a shift away from past practices.

"One of the changes we've made in the past five years is instead of having five board members opining on what they want, we include the entire executive management team," he said. "This forms a much more collaborative and sustainable thing because those are the people who actually have to get everything done."

Working with the entire group has been particularly successful because of the group's dynamics, he said.

"The team works so well together," he said. "The facilitator was impressed that (the participants) were all right on target."

After defining areas of strategic importance, participants spent time looking at how to measure successes in these areas. Reagan said that may have been the trickiest part of all.

"There are a lot of things the board measures all the time," he said. "It's figuring out which are the most appropriate ones to use to figure out if we are improving the quality of life in the county."

The meeting facilitators now will take all of the information from the session and put it into a streamlined document. When budget season comes around in June, supervisors will be looking at whether and how to fund some of the initiatives stemming from the session, Reagan said.

Vasquez said he felt the session had been productive.

"I walked away feeling good," he said. "There was much conversation afterward. Now we'll see if we can do something about it."

Julie Kay can be reached at

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