Citizens interested in Huber Heights City Council
Succeeding in Huber Heights
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I’ve been attending the Huber Heights City
Council meetings either online or in person for over six months and
I’ve been going to most of the school board meetings lately.
I believe that the members of both these organizations are
sincere when I’ve heard them say they wish more people got involved.
However, for most issues at these meetings a normal working
resident cannot easily become educated on the subject either before the
meeting through the website or during the meeting from the
conversations. I would bet
there have been many people throughout the years that thought to
themselves “I should become more civic minded” then came to a board
or council meeting, sat through it getting no useful information, and
then came to a negative conclusion about the board or council’s
I believe these open meetings combined with
the official website should contain enough details so a normal resident
can easily read up on issues that interest them.
As you can tell by looking at this campaign website and my online
magazine www.tfmsview.com I
express my views and provide details behind my reasoning.
The “danger” of this is every reader and every voter will see
something about the way I write and think that they disagree with.
Often readers will be more intelligent about a subject I write
about. In these cases, I
want to hear the “real” truth so please pass on your knowledge.
But this doesn't always happen and there is always the chance the
expert might go away with a
negative impression. This is a “danger” that I believe is required
if we are going define what issues need to be attended too and then
Before I go further let me empathize with
local officials. I suspect
there are many individuals that come to meetings half cocked and never
even tried to look into the issue prior to demanding the council or
board implement their wishes. However,
I believe the council would see a lot less of these instances if the
council communicated to the public as I f they
were aware of the average working residents time constraints.
I also believe they could get a football like following if they
communicated at a general public knowledge level on the web site and
during the general meeting.
Here are some items they can improve that
would make it easier for the general public to efficiently get informed
about current council business. First
off on the council’s website the agenda for the general meeting comes
with a button on the top of the web page that has the text of the
resolutions. I was going to
3 months worth of council meetings before I realized this information
was there. These are pretty
significant files often with 40 to 70 pages so printing these out for
those attending the meeting might be a waste of money.
However, on the two or three page agenda they do provide for
attendees they should mention that these other 40 + pages are on the
website and tell us where to find them.
The other important thing to know about the general meeting is that a lot of the work is done in committee meetings and a lot of the committee meetings are open to the public. The web site does publish these meetings. Unfortunately, the website developer went for cutsie instead of functional. To look on this page for the meeting notices takes way to long
found it is much more economical to just open the agenda
page and then open the agenda to see what is going on.
The general council meeting does not have any formal means to
convey what is going on in the committees.
Occasionally, a council member will mention one they think is
important. But this is done
randomly. If the council was
interested in informing the average citizen they would dedicate fifteen
minutes or so near the beginning of the general meeting first
summarizing the issues undertaken by the committees since the last
general meeting. Then
announcing what issues would be undertaken before the next general
meeting. I hope it goes
without saying they should also announce the who, what where, how and
when of the future meetings.
items that are found on the agenda the council can provide back ground
information about the item. For
instance items that
come up during the general meeting may have already been discussed
during committee meetings. There
should be references in the download pack that point out when the item
has been discussed previously. A
link from there to the main points for and against the item should be
provided. Since the full
council is likely to vote to pass the resolution on the first reading
the council should provide what went into that decision before the vote
leads to another communication problem with the way the meetings are
held. The public comment
section is at the beginning of the session.
I saw the agenda item about the recreation center on the Saturday
before the Monday vote. I
wanted to know more about the rec center.
However, there was very little information available before the
meeting to help me construct informed questions.
And I knew from other council meetings there would be very little
information passed to the public during the pre-vote discussion.
It might be helpful in creating public interest if there were a
period at the end of the night for the audience to comment on the
proceedings of the meeting.
last thing I’ll mention here is a pet peeve I talked to Ms. Kalebs
about after the first meeting I attended in person.
Declaring every item on the agenda an emergency makes the council
look lazy and incompetent. I
know that all the council members are use to it because it is normal
business but to the first time observer and those of us that are literal
it really makes the council look bad.
In my conversation with Ms. Kalebs
she conveyed that the city charter required all business to get
three public readings unless the council declared the item an emergency.
I fully understand that most of what is presented at the council
is not controversial and should be passed on the initial meeting.
But I think it is worth the effort to try and define what needs
1, 2 or 3 public readings and then change the charter so the meeting
proceedings don’t look so farcical.
The meaning of Open Meetings