BY CATHERINE OZMENT
Updated: “Council’s resolution requires the agendas be released 72 hours in advance (in compliance with the Open Meetings Act), which would be Saturday before the Tuesday meeting. In practice they are released Friday afternoon, which is effectively the beginning of the weekend. Thursday afternoon is a much more appropriate time to release materials that the community–and Councilors–need to effectively engage in the governing of our county.“
On Tuesday,, March 14 Council Vice-Chair Theresa Cull will present on items related to Council Operations and Outreach. Based on the staff report, I am optimistic that there will be good discussion about potentially valuable Council actions, and I have a lot of trust in Vice Chair Cull to move toward transparency and openness.
Agenda item 17707-23 attachment B (resolution on reasonable notification for meetings, etc.) also provides an opportunity to increase by one day the amount of time the public–and Council–has to review a final agenda and agenda packets before the meeting.
Right now materials are required to be provided no less than 72 hours before a meeting (the requirement of the Open Meetings Act). This is why we find out on Friday the details of what will happen on Tuesday. When a government is consistently failing to meet basic expectations for transparency, sometimes you need to go above and beyond to rebuild that trust. I hope Council will extend that lead time to 96 hours, giving everyone an extra business day to read, digest, ask questions, and respond to the business of the County.
For people who may struggle to balance the lengthy reading with other obligations, the extra day could perhaps help make their participation in our government a little less onerous and a little more informed.
Credit where credit is due: Chair Derkacs has continued to include the tickler on most agendas, allowing the public to have a general sense of which topics will come up roughly when. That is an important step in the right direction, but it is only a step.
Rebuilding trust takes many steps, and this is an opportunity to take another. If getting materials Thursday instead of Friday would help you be a more informed constituent, I hope you’ll join me in asking Council to make the requirement at least 96 hours before a Council meeting instead of 72. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or join the meeting at 6pm on Tuesday, March 14 to give public comment. This work session will take place in person at the Fire Station in White Rock or you can join via Zoom (https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82683176848).
Other important items tonight: local public transit and possible new boards for LARES, REI, and Animal Shelter. Staff has recommended not adding standing boards, but it is up to Council to decide what Boards are important. If you want to have a say in either of those issues, you can use same methods above to voice your preference.
The choices made at these meetings often impact your daily life in ways you don’t see right away. Stay involved!