Citizens interested in Huber Heights City Council

Succeeding in Huber Heights



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This site paid for by Tom McMasters (with the permission of his wife)

Date: 19 Mar 20011

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 motives. 

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  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 solved.

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

I’ve 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.   

For 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 is taken. 

This 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. 

The 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. 


Tom McMasters

The meaning of Open Meetings