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Open government
Committee is worth its value

To the Editor:
After the initial meeting of the Ad Hoc Open Government Committee, and as a member, I can respond to part of Evangeline Loranc’s letter to the editor (“Change is good,” Dec. 30 Tribunes).
Continuing education is a requirement in many professional fields. The city’s efforts to learn to increase its transparency and ability to engage citizens seems to fall in this category. After the lack of communication, misunderstandings, and hard feelings from the cell tower proposal and other issues, city government created an avenue to do better: learn from citizens how to better communicate and as importantly, how to engage citizens in the governing process.
From information presented at the meeting, the Ad Hoc Committee’s six month process cost is $12,000, facilitated by an experienced, neutral facilitator.
The volunteer members submitted applications to the City Council to be on the committee. These meetings are open to the public. Two Focus Groups, intended to provide in-depth information from citizens to the city and the committee, are selected by the Focus Group consultant. The focus group members, approximately eight to ten per group, are paid $150 each for their time. The Focus Group process cost is $12.000 - $14,000. The total $24,000 - $26,000 was taken from savings in another city department.
Bottom line: Building trust and engaging citizens in city government. I will work toward those goals.
Mary Dessein



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