Rules of the Road

The purpose of this blog is to share with you my thoughts on issues pertaining to Oil City and Venango County and to foster discussion.

However, that requires some basic rules. Personal attacks, inappropriate language and venom-filled postings will not be tolerated. Comments will be screened, and if necessary edited, before posting.

Disagreement and a variety of opinions are encouraged, but I ask that it always be in a respectful, positive manner. So fire away, but do so cleanly

Sunday, February 5, 2012


I’ve come to realize that one of the greatest hurdles
council and its members as individual face are the expectations.
And I think this is particularly true during the first few
months of a new council.
Backers of candidates who won election hope for something
different, even if they are not entirely sure what that should be, but that
does not decrease the expectation.
Supporters of losing candidates tend to say to the winners,”
OK, you won, now what are you going to do about this, this or this”, and expect,
perhaps demand, that the new council prove it can do better than the last.
And members of council face their own expectations. Every person who runs for council has a desire
to see things improve financially and socially, and wants to see that happen
quickly. If elected they soon learn the stark reality that there is no quick
when it comes to changing a community’s fortunes for the better, or often even
accomplishing one significant task, such as demolition of the Brody block or
tearing down blighted housing.
Oil City whether as a community or as Oil City government is
greatly constrained, as is every city in the Commonwealth. It is a matter of money, a matter of state
mandates and limitations on the options available to cities; the community’s
demographics, geography and even how government is designed to work.
So many expectations, or at least quick gratification, will
not be met. Progress is a process.
Add to this that whenever there is a new council (by that I
mean new members) there is a bit of a dance that occurs. The group dynamics
have changed and every member of council must come to understand how the others
think and how all will work together. And the one expectation everyone should
have and that should be met is that council always works cooperatively. That
does not mean always agreeing, or even avoiding spirited dissent or discussion,
but an understanding that we are all there for the same reason.
Fortunately, that has largely been the case for as long as I
have been on council.


Anonymous said...

I agree that it most generally jsut boils down to money. However, I have felt for years that there is a general attitude of apathy in Oil City and at City Hall. This has changed in recent years. New council members and the previous mayor did have an "enough is enough" attitude and started to get things changed (maybe not always the right way). I hope we don't take a step backwards but that you continue to expect more for our City. I will say that self-control and a level head are clearly a priority and a requirement for success. Emotions are such a strange thing that are at times difficult to manage. Anyone who thinks otherwise is not being honest with themselves or hasn't been in a highly charged situation. Sometimes I wonder if it's best to admit a mistake and step aside. EVERYONE makes mistakes and sometimes you just have to bite the bullet, deal with it, and move on. It gets you and those close to you out of the spotlight. You aren't admitting defeat or guilt - just making a wise decision.

Dan Robertson said...

Anonymous, that was classless, sheesh.

Anonymous said...

I disagree that there is apathy at City Hall. The employees and elected officials of Oil City have been committed to keeping the City afloat and moving forward. There are many limitations that they must work under - money, federal and state mandates, court systems, and much more. Without the hardwork and dedication that has been demonstrated over the years Oil City would have had to consider drastic steps such as becoming an Act 47 community. The employees "in the trenches" are some of the most versatile people you will every encounter and have saved time and money in countless ways for all of us. I respect your efforts, John, to maintain an open line of communication for the general public and applaude your commitment to work with staff and the other elected officials to move Oil City forward.

Anonymous said...

Up until the time John and Sonja (and others) took office there was little to nothing done to stop the decay and blight spreading throughout Oil City. It was never addressed. I even recall that Mr. Robertson particpated in a haunted house, of all things, in the fire trap that was the Brody building. There was NO effort to hold the owner accountable. Now look at the mess the City is stuck with. Yes, there were years of apathy here. If you don't see it you are either biased or blind. If stating that fact is classless, I'm not sure why. Letting your City (and your own properties) fall apart around you is far more classless in my book.

John Noel Bartlett said...

I have to disagree with the last anonymous poster, especially in reference to the Brody Block.
When I first took office, the city was already trying to get some things done at the Brody Building. It is nearly impossible to hold an owner accountable, especially when the ownership is structured as an out-of-state LLC, which we found out the hard way. My gut feeling is nothing could have been done four years ago, or six or eight that would have led to a different outcome.
I have to give credit to Don Robertson and others who tried to do something with the space, at least on a very temporary basis to make it some type of asset.
I do think overall a lot has been done in the past few years. We have tried, but I think previous councils did as well, and the circumstances were different for each previous council (as they are for this council) so I’m not sure apathy is a fair description.
So, I think this should be enough for this blog post, and I’ll soon get a fresh one up.