The ad hoc advisory group called Advantage Watertown was created nearly a decade ago as part of a process to plan for revitalization of he City's waterfront. It's a once a month meeting of business and community leaders.
For some time, there has been a slow burn over the group over fears the public thinks Advantage Watertown is discussing and deciding on issues the elected officials should. It's the same argurment used against the increasing trend to marginalize elected leaders in favor of the unelected agencies.
On the other hand, its a chance to bring different ideas into the governing process.
What has been nettlesome is that the MSM routinely covers Advantage meetings, so that what happens has the imprimatur of official action. That's not the media's fault, but it has annoyed some Council members. In particular, those "City Eyes -------" headlines that may result from an Advantage meeting.
Council members Smith and Burns want it gone, and that may happen as those serving on the body are not likely to be a part of something they are criticised over.
As Mayor, I participate in the meetings and find it useful to hear differing opinions, as the perspective you get at Council meetings is pretty limited. It is a bit of a debating club atmosphere and I have tried to advise the body over Council sensitivities over turf issues.
Often, I find the range of meetings I am in on leave me with a baseline of knowledge that Council members not at City Hall every day just don't have. Last week I met with Chamber leaders, hockey enthusiasts and today the CG from Fort Drum stops by.
Ultimately, City Council is the decider on major issues, and its been a while since I heard the words "shadow government."