I had some of what puzzled me about the commissioners’ responses (my wondering where the city’s issues were, and why they were not addressed) somewhat cleared up by Bill Ganz.
His interpretation of the question asked was that they were to identify a process for addressing issues, not identify the issues themselves. Then after that he assumed the facilitator would come back to the issues.
While the facilitator, David Long, was taking responses about “what should be done” about city issues, needs and opportunities, Bill was waiting for him to get to what was covered in the individual private interviews Long conducted with the staff and commissioners.
Ganz was convinced that the issues from the interviews would come up later and the brainstorming session was for process.
After lunch he looked for, as was on the agenda, the results and identification of themes. Nothing happened, no issues from the interview were incorporated and his fellow commissioners stopped listening to Long and decided to do nothing but rant about others' shortcomings. At that point, Bill was as disgusted as I by their behavior and decided to give up.
I did not interpret the question the way Bill did; my take on it was that they should identify the “issues, the needs and the opportunities” during the brainstorming, and how to deal with them. He thought they had already identified the issues beforehand and the facilitator wanted to know the things that could be done.
But we both came to the same conclusion, that the day was a waste of time.