Saturday, January 19, 2013

Borough Family Values

It is not uncommon for a new company or a new administration to try to re-boot their operations by sitting down and asking themselves "what is our mission?" or "what are our core values?"

Well, you can add the Borough of Pottstown to the list of those organizations.

And even though the borough's mission statement and core values were updated as recently as Oct. 11, 2011, Borough Manager Mark Flanders has presented borough council with drafts of a new mission statement and new core values for the borough.

He wants to know what they think before they become official.

So before they become official, I figured, why not ask you what you think. Feel free to post your thoughts in the comment section below. (If you can't "sign-in," just choose the "anonymous" option and you can sign your name if you like.)

I thought perhaps the best way to do this comparison is to look at them side by side.

As posted on the borough web site (thanks Ginny Takach for helping me find it), this is the borough's current Mission Statement, adopted in 2011, are:
Our mission is to provide and maintain superior municipal services in a safe and controlled community setting, keeping within the designated financial constraints as set forth in our annual budget, in order to attract and retain responsible property owners, businesses and community leaders that will continue to assist in our improvement and growth for the future, while remembering our P.R.I.D.E.
Flanders has proposed replacing the above with the following:
The mission of the borough of Pottstown is to provide equitably responsive, innovative and cost-effective services. 
As for the "core values," notice that the current Mission ends with "P.R.I.D.E."
Mark Flanders

Well apparently it stands for something, the borough's core values, at least for the moment are as follows:
P.R.I.D.E. Core Values
P - Plan - We will accept that change is inevitable, and PLAN accordingly for the future.
R – Responsible - We will manage our financial and human resources in a RESPONSIBLE manner.
I – Interests - We will consider the INTERESTS of the entire community in decision making
D – Deliver - We will strive to DELIVER superior services to the tax and rate payers.
E – Equity - We will treat everyone and every situation with EQUITY and fairness.
And Flanders has proposed the following new core values statement to replace the one above:
We will obligate ourselves to account for all of our actions, accept responsibility for them, and disclose the outcomes in a transparent manner.
We provide the highest quality service with the resources available by promoting innovation and flexibility to meet the changing needs of the borough.
We are aware of the importance of our natural, historic and economic resources and strive to enrich their sustainability for future generations.
Setting high standards in our personal, professional and organizational conduct, we will strive to uphold the public trust by conducting ourselves with integrity in furtherance of the borough's mission.
We will demonstrate respect by how we treat each other, by the contributions that come from our diversity, by the productivity of our relationships, and by a job well done no matter what the job.
We are dedicated to educate, promote and encourage the practice of safety while reducing unsafe and hazardous conditions for all who live, work and play in our community. Thus improving the quality of life within the Borough of Pottstown.
We operate collaboratively with an intense focus on the common goal, betting the community we serve, and we recognize that we can always achieve more by working together.
Trust is the condition and resulting obligation of having confidence placed in oneself. Therefore, we accept the challenge to display integrity and character in every aspect of our functions.
 So there you have it folks.

The Mission Statement got shorter and the Core Values statement got longer.

What do you think?

Are the new ones better than the old ones?

Do you have any suggested changes?

Pass them along and we will pass them along to Flanders and Council.


  1. I think these value statements are a good way to get a lot of people to rally around a common idea, something that is desperately needed in Pottstown. Looking forward to seeing how these core values are implemented to shape a new Pottstown, filled with positive, forward thinking people.
    As a side note, Evan, I am starting to read your blog more religiously than I read the paper. Is that bad?

  2. The values look good and I like that the mission statement is shorter but there seems to be an important piece missing. What is the vision statement? What is the ultimate goal for Pottstown?

  3. If it's broke...fix it.

  4. Kudos to Flanders for trying to refocus the borough. But when you develop or revise vision/mission/values shouldn't it be part of a larger planning process that includes feedback from local business leaders, agencies, and other stakeholders? How else do you get buy in and investment from the community to support the mission?

  5. Evan, many thanks for making this information public and asking our opinions !! You can always count on me to have something to say **giggle**

    The words and sentiment are beautiful, even hopeful.

    Perhaps instead of the uncomfortable invocation before each council meeting our local officials could stand before us, the people who elected them, and repeat these core values as their mantra until it becomes reality, ***she says....

    as visions of the king of self-affirmations, SNL's Stuart Smalley, dance through her head: "Because, I'm good enough, smart enough and doggonit, people like me."

    Or as a very funny neighbor said recently, "invocation, yeah right, how's that been working out for Pottstown?"

    Resplendent with irony is the fact that YOU are asking what we think and not our elected officials. I rest assured that you will let them know exactly what we think Evan.

    When I can walk down the street in front of my home, walk up my alley, walk downtown to have a bite to eat, see a play of an evening, or buy a gift and, (to my great surprise and delight), I encounter mostly trash free streets and gutters, derelict old mattresses and furniture that adorn our alleys and yards today are conspicuously - gone - replaced by pots of flowers, safe, attractive and navigable sidewalks, trash and recycle bins are stashed out of view, (preferably behind or to the side of buildings)...

    When good smells waft from clean, attractive homes along the way. Homes whose inhabitants understand decorum, with a little help from our leaders, they hum a happy tune, no more screaming and shouting F***k this and that - oozing their dysfunction at passers by from the steps of their rented homes, where time weights heavy on their hands...

    When I no longer receive pleas for help from desperate homeowners living next to untenable filth, crime and noise, when tenants stop calling to ask what they can do about unsafe living conditions, when govt. leaders and public employees are capable and see the benefit of stepping up to take care of these problems, systematically...

    When panhandlers and the "lost", no longer exclusively share the sidewalk with me instead, I encounter police officers on bikes and on foot who greet me, a friendly hello, assurance that they are on a mission and, when I never again have to cross the street to avoid bumping into a drug deal going down, or the pop-pop-pop's in the dead of night are assuredly the joyful celebrations of neighbors on the 4th of July...

    When new businesses begin to pop up, one by one, on High St. like crocus in early spring....

    Then, the words, above, will have meaning for me.

    Evidence is required. "Team Work" ? Does that mean officials will put their egos as well as their judgements of people from the past in order to reach out across the wide chasm carved by decades of mistrust and disappointment? Will they really, really work toward an understanding that we are all in this together? That we are a community of smart, creative, caring, and capable people?

    In other words, when we have unfailing leadership that includes elected representatives who understand their roles in communicating with and acting on behalf of the people who elected them, those goals, that mantra will have meaning.

    The information brought to us today, in this blog post, is yet another missed opportunity by our representatives to communicate with us - do we dare hope for better from them while they remain in office?


  6. I too read these words and have to admit they have a good ring to them. The mission is clear and concise but to me, as someone else stated, they lack a vision for Pottstown. The following words from the current Mission “in order to attract and retain responsible property owners, businesses and community leaders that will continue to assist in our improvement and growth…” seem to set out goals that are measureable and represent activities that would rally our community.

    While I am relatively new to the area, my biggest concern is the willingness/ability of our current representatives to identify strategies and commit to fulfilling the mission and to live by the values. Pottstown does have a lot to be proud of (beautiful old buildings, the River Trail, Henry’s Café, etc) however it also has numerous issues (crime, empty store fronts, high taxes, a significant amount of rental properties including a large number of section 8 rentals, a less than favorable reputation with professionals – realtors, etc). These issues will need to be priorities of council and there must be a willingness and commitment to change.

  7. Were the borough employees part of the process to revise the mission and values? Their input is vital.

  8. Obviously Flanders has too much time on his hands sitting behind a desk preparing his manifesto.

  9. When used properly, mission and vision statements can be very powerful tools. They provide direction and help lead the organization forward. But key steps were missed here. This is Public Administration 101. Would encourage the Borough Manager to enroll in a PA program and the Council to support leadership development.

  10. I like the idea of ‘attracting and retaining responsible property owners’. Is there a process in place to make this happen?

    Hopefully, there are measurable steps being implemented to make this portion of the vision a reality. The high turnover of the surrounding rental properties grows really tiresome and adds to the instability of a community.

    I believe retaining responsible property owners could be achieved, in part, by implementing a sense of fairness. As a homeowner, it almost seems as if we are more likely to be nailed with citations/violations while the investors (the undesirable ones) appear to be catered to. I would encourage the boro to consider that homeowners are “investors” too…. We have invested our LIVES here.

    “Continuous Improvement” is vital, however, please realize this is powered by people, their ideas and the drive to make things better. This should not be limited to your internal boro workers, sometimes valuable insight is provided by others in the community – please listen to their ideas and suggestions.

    Quality of life crimes also need to be addressed- far more aggressively than they currently are. The ordinances in place are nice- on paper- but they are an absolute waste of time if no one is going to enforce them.

    A final note: you took your time to revise the core values, please ensure all employees LIVE THE CREDO.

  11. So much for transparency, Flanders.