When we fail to proactively engage the citizens of our community in the policy making process, we tend to get less effective public policy. Lack of public engagement leads to less effective public policy because: (1) the policies don't meet the needs of the citizens because the policy makers don't have enough input about those needs; and (2) the citizens aren't invested in the success of the policies because they weren't involved in the process at any level, which makes it difficult to effectively implement the policies. Lack of transparency also creates room for government inefficiency, corruption, and conflicts of interest.
Here are two steps we can take toward making PV a leader in government transparency:
1. Video live streaming and archiving of all city council work sessions and meetings. I was dismayed when our city council voted down the proposal for the city to live stream all council meetings on May 15, 2017. I spoke at that meeting, urging the council to reconsider. I pointed out that this proposal can likely be implemented at an annual cost that amounts to less than one hundredth of one percent of the city's annual budget. UPDATE: Thanks to the efforts of outgoing Ward 3 councilman Eric Mikkelson, the proposal was later revived for future consideration by the council and ultimately adopted. I will continue to advocate for the effective implementation of this proposal.
2. Make the city council agenda clear and fully accessible to the public. Any citizen should be able to easily determine the issues expected to be on the council's agenda at least one week prior to each city council meeting. The issues should be described in plain English. The context and process should also be described plainly -- for example, is the issue being raised for the first time simply for initial discussion or is this an issue on which the council is ready to take action? A citizen who is not familiar with the procedures of local government should be able to clearly understand what the council is doing, when it's doing it, and how citizens can provide input both privately to councilmembers and at a the council meeting.