Thursday, January 29, 2015

Council Meeting Review

I, along with Lee, Art, Duane, and Gregory attended the Tuesday Santa Rosa City Council meeting for the Budget Priority hearing; Gregory and Art stayed for the Roseland Annexation reports and commented on the matter  I don’t know if Duane stayed, but probably did!

I think the entire “show” can be viewed on the SR City website, but here goes:

There was a mostly full chambers, with about 75 North Bay Organizing Project (NBOP) and Imaginist Theater group arrived having marched from SW Santa Rosa for the event with placards for low income housing and transportation equity.  They were warmly welcomed (nice change) and were first on the commenters’ schedule.  
Lee spoke on the Open Govt. TF implementation specifically the Community Engagement Director and the consolidation of efforts into a new section/department as well as the Annexation process’s community engagement deficiencies (as per the material he sent us).   Quite a bit later, Gregory gave his presentation or re-creating city processes (also sent to us). Three folks from the Open Govt. TF also spoke to implementation of the plan including the Director Level of the new Engagement position, so I think we made an impact on that score.  

The Budget hearings went smoothly with presentations limited to 2 minutes due to a large number of presenters.  Mayor Sawyer did a masterly job of running the hearing.  Although many other issues had multiple speakers:  SE Greenway, Affordable Housing, it was evident that City Council members had gotten our materials.  

Lee and I left when they broke for dinner after the Budget priorities hearing, but Art and Gregory and Duane were troopers and stayed on through the item on Roseland and the consultants report.
My impression from his late night comments to me was that our submitted input (and follow up phone call from city staff to Gregory & I) really made an impact.  The consultant from Shared Spaces basically axed the longitudinal process in the report and described the creation of a Steering Committee that will truly empowered and drive the process. Gregory definitely said that the consultant’s process will go forward, not stop.   However, the Shared Spaces guy did request to meet.
My suggestion at this point would be to convene our Annexation Team and try and sift through all this information, including the efforts to create a Health Action Chapter in SW Santa Rosa, and how this will play into the Annexation Process.

Pat Kuta


Pat did a great job of describing the first part of the City Council meeting on Tuesday, and I share her perspective on the upbeat nature of the presentations and comments for budget priorities from the community and the Council. The tone of communication definitely has changed.

By the way, in the meantime, we’ve received an email correspondence initiated by Helga Lemke to John Sawyer requesting a change to the Public Comments on Non-Agenda Items from the end of the meeting to the beginning.  John wrote back that he will be proposing that at least a half-hour be dedicated at the beginning of the meeting for that, in addition to the end of meeting time slot.  Thanks to Helga, and a special thanks to John for his prompt and productive response.

One other item at the beginning of the meeting is worth noting.  Mayor Sawyer had placed a resolution from the Council honoring Bill Kortum, and it was presented to Lucy Kortum.  Speeches from members were from the hearts, and I was glad that lots of young people were on hand to hear about how someone willing to stand up for their beliefs can make a difference in lots of folks lives,

The agenda items concerning Roseland annexation, both the citizen engagement and the cost and revenues for annexation, went very well.  I believe that the letters we sent to the Council, and the conference call earlier in the day that Pat and I had with Lisa Kranz and Jessica Jones had an impact we hoped for.  Both the staff presentation, and the Councilmember questioning showed they understood our concerns.  The role of the Steering Committee, the need to design the process to adequately focus on annexation, and the opportunity to develop more fully the area’s capabilities of representation and participation, all were brought up and addressed.  In adopting the Citizen Engagement Plan, the Council has instructed the staff and consultants that it expects a robust outreach with creative initiatives to go far beyond what was described in initial documentation presented.  Even Duane complimented the Council for their enthusiasm, and gave them an optimistic view of the success of annexation.

On the costs and revenues of annexation, the report delivered by the staff was given top honors by the Council. The gallery was filled with departmental participants who were prepared to respond to questions, though most on the Council focused on clarifying County contributions and commitments.  The City Manager indicated that the document before them had been shared with the County last week, and it should become a clear start for serious discussions on what the County perceives as its perspectives.  

At the end of these agenda items, Duane and Art and I passed around business cards with PMC and Shared Spaces, and Steve Campion asked if he could meet soon to begin the process.  We agreed on Thursday, Feb 5th at 11am at our house.  Let me know if you think inviting him to our Steering Committee meeting would be more useful.  One of my interests is to get him to make all materials and plans available online immediately, and to consider establishing online access to document development and weekly online video-conferencing.

I think we’re off to a good start, mostly because we helped orchestrate a deep understanding of how our concerns will shape the success of failure of the process.  Now we need to keep the many eyes and ears who are alerted - watching and contributing - and recruit many others to become involved.


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