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Lansdale Council President Wants to Fix Ill Communication in the Borough

Tony Di Domizio

Friday, May 23, 2014 • 7:01pm

Coun-cil's got the ill communication.

Before things get worse, Lansdale Council President Jason Van Dame is nipping bad communication between councilmembers and the community and borough staff in the bud now.

"I want to start off on the right foot as president," Van Dame said during the President's Comments portion of Wednesday's council session. "One of the biggest things I've seen as a problem, not just in Lansdale Borough Council, but in government in general, is communication. Communication is a huge issue in getting things done."

Van Dame said now is the time for council to work together going forward. 

He stated that he is not enforcing a media policy for councilmembers who talk to the media.

"If that's something you want to do, and you feel comfortable doing, I'm not going to ask you not to. I will ask that you know what you are talking about and have the facts to back it up," Van Dame said. "If you critique the staff in any way, please make sure you have some documentation that backs i up, so you are not opening a liability issue to the borough."

"As elected officials, these comments can come back to haunt us," he said. "We have to be careful what we say to the media." 

Another important aspect is communication amongst councilmembers. Van Dame said he recently reached out to each councilmember to set up a time to get together and talk about issues and how to move foward as a team for the betterment of the borough.

He said few replied and others, not at all.

"What I ask is that decency of a reply," he said. "I think we are all capable fo that and that's all I can expect. I believe our constituents have a right to know we are all working together. We may not agree on things, but if we can't get together and discuss these things, we are not going to be able to move forward. That's important." 

A third major aspect to communication is a rapport with borough staff. Van Dame said Lansdale has a "great staff" that is putting Lansdale "in good shape."

"They work hard to get information put together for each of us to have to make decision as we move forward. We owe them the time to listen to their material," he said. "Then, we can make the decisions here on how to proceed. WIthout discussions, we are making assumptions and making decisions that aren't thoroughly vetted. We owe that to our constituents."

He said he made a promise during his campaign to make the right decisions for Lansdale.

"We all signed up for this; this is not something we were told we had to do," he said. "I hope we can each put our big boy and big girl pants on and put the time in that we need to that's necessary to make good decisions for the borough." 

Van Dame said council is poised to make some big decisions down the road, such as the possibiliy of a $10 million bond issue. WIthout proper communication with staff, councilmembers and consultants, council cannot make proper decisions.

"All these projects that we have built over the past couple of years on our list, they truly need to be done to prepare the borough for the future," he said.

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