Friday, January 8, 2010

Seattle City Council adopts public engagement plan

Highlighted in Councilmember Richard Conlin's newsletter:


On Monday, December 14, the Council unanimously adopted a Public Engagement Plan for 2010-2011. The Plan, which has been developed by the Open Government Committee over the last several months, commits the Council to a series of steps that will provide greater opportunities for the public to learn about the work of the Council and to provide comments and input on proposed Council legislation.

There are three major elements in the plan, which will be evaluated and adjusted depending on experience over the next two years, and then reviewed and revised for the 2012-2013 Council.
First, the Council agreed to engage in a new process to remove the barriers to participation in Town Halls and make the council’s Town Halls more successful in attracting and effectively engaging participants. Based on working with community organizations, the Council is in the process of creating a set of best practices for town hall meetings that include partnering with community organizations to encourage participation, providing notice of meetings well in advance, using a geographically diverse set of meeting locations, and including community participation in developing agendas, along with a facilitation model that encourages substantive participation with a fair opportunity for everyone to speak. The Council has piloted these techniques at Town Halls in the summer and fall of 2009, and will use them to develop a 2010 Town Hall plan early in the year.

Second, the Council committed to increasing the venues for dialogue between the public and the Council, including making Councilmembers available on a regular basis through a systematic program to reach community –based organizations, holding at least five meetings per year outside of City Hall at locations throughout the city, and establishing a regular time and place where individual Councilmembers will host open dialogues with the public at least monthly from February to October.

Finally, the Council created a program to expand its media outreach, including improving the Council’s use of existing City resources such as the Council website and the Seattle Channel, increasing the use of social media by establishing Council Facebook and Twitter accounts, blogs, and video channels, and developing more active ongoing relationships with existing print, electronic, and web-based media along with opportunities to provide content to neighborhood and community based newsletters and electronic postings.

These strategies will improve the Council’s visibility in the community and provide more opportunities for a broad spectrum of the Seattle public to provide feedback and ideas as we work together for the future of our City.

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