Brent Ives, owner of BHI Management Consulting, condensed a two-day seminar into a two-hour workshop at the MHCSD building.
The objective of the workshop was to address matters facing governing boards, such as obligations, roles, ethics, performance evaluations and teamwork.
“This is basically a class in being a good board member,” Ives said.
A 22-year political veteran, Ives has served on the Tracy City Council and currently serves as the mayor of the city.
Ives said he agreed to conduct the workshop because of the changing dynamics of the board and its search for a new general manager. He described the board’s current situation as an opportunity to “dust off and start over.”
The workshop — his first in San Joaquin County — was provided pro-bono at the request of former interim General Manager Mimi Duzenski.
Board Vice President Jim Lamb said he thought the workshop would get the directors “on the same page.”
Prior to the workshop, Lamb said the board was not working as a team in pursuit of a common goal.
“It’s important to have a workshop to reinforce where our minds should be,” he said. “It’s the first time we did training like this.”
During his presentation, Ives explained a governing board’s role is to create policy that represents the public and to oversee the general manager, who executes the policies set forth by the board.
Among his 43-page slide presentation, Ives listed 20 points that make up an ideal board, including giving the community a prosperous future; respecting the system and process; and being clear about a board’s role.
One of the keys to success for any board, he said, was teamwork.
“Any team that doesn’t work as a team doesn’t do good as a team,” he said. “Serve as a team is a path to a bright and prosperous future. Boards that fight or squabble end up retracing steps.”
Ives urged the directors to develop a direction without worrying about how to achieve it, and said that town staffers need to be trusted to do their jobs.
Director Andy Su said that was challenging, because the directors each want to do things differently. Ives said they need to create a unified vision and set direction for a strategy with goals, and that “everything the agency does should find basis in and linkage to the mission.”
On the matter of ethics, Ives said there is an expectation for board members to have highest ethical standards and that directors should be “exercising their power in the public’s interest, as opposed to self-interest or narrow special interest.”
After Ives concluded, Su said he wished they had taken part in Ives’ workshop four years ago. He said three of the board members — himself, Lamb and Bernice King Tingle — have served on the board for four years, but never truly got off on the right foot.
Tingle agreed and said they could use the material provided by Ives to “keep them grounded.”
Lamb said the workshop gave him a tool to address future agenda items in the proper context.
“It’s being real clear about the board’s authority and responsibility, and the staff’s authority and responsibility,” he said. “It’s nice that is a bright line.”
• Contact Denise Ellen Rizzo at 830-4225 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
At a glance
WHAT: Mountain House Community Services District Board of Directors Special Meeting
WHEN: 6 p.m., Monday, Jan. 28
WHERE: Michael Forbes McGrew Board Room, 230 S. Sterling Drive
DETAILS: President Celeste Farron and directors Steven Gutierrez, Jim Lamb, Andy Su, and Bernice King Tingle were present.