A Publication of WTVP

For several months, there have been rumors circulating throughout the Med Tech District regarding the future of the district and the Med Tech District Commission. Further adding to the rumors was the creation of a “Commission on Commissions” by the City of Peoria, where comments were circulating that the Med Tech District Commission would be folded into the Heart of Peoria Commission. The purpose of this Commission on Commissions is a review by city staff of the time and resources each commission needs to perform its intended role.

On November 4, the city held a Commission on Commissions meeting, and the Med Tech District Commission was discussed. The conversation was interesting but left open the possibilities noted above.

For example, upon discussion of a developing relationship with District 150 and the Med Tech District, the council members present commented that this was yet another example where commissions were going off in their own direction without council approval, contrary to the original intent of the ordinance. In March 2005, the council approved the Med Tech District’s comprehensive master plan, which included discussion of the importance of education and the possibility of a new technology-oriented middle school. A planning task force was specifically called for in the comprehensive master plan, and a budget item for the activity was approved in the budget for the commission.

The council members present didn’t remember their actions as elected officials in approving the master plan and budget. When reminded of this action, their comment was this is another reason why there were too many commissions, and it’s impossible for elected council members to keep up with all activities and be aware of all progress of the commissions. Again, an interesting comment since the Med-Tech Commission has both the city manager and the 2nd District Council representative as ex-officio members to keep the council informed.

It does, however, raise a bigger question. If Peoria is going to be a dynamic and progressive city, will the council members take an appropriate higher-level leadership role? In creating the Med-Tech District ordinance, they established a commission and charged it to develop a comprehensive master plan and an implementation strategy. The council then considered that plan as elected officials, deemed it appropriate, and approved it along with a budget. The commission was then charged with implementing the plan. The council should—and must—monitor progress and allow the commission to act and complete the assignment. The Med Tech District Commission has acted accordingly and begun implementing the plan within the approved budget.

Commissions with broad membership from the community, specific responsibilities, and approved plans of action like the Med-Tech District can move Peoria forward. Council action that seeks to manage every detail of progress dooms the city to creep ahead, all the while falling behind in the competitive world. We hope the council will consider holding the Med-Tech District Commission as a shining example of how a group of engaged citizens can move Peoria forward. IBI