Here is a Google video of the first hour and 18 minutes from the Northampton City Council meeting of 3/5/09. This video was recorded by Lachlan Ziegler, and is also available on Vimeo. It includes the public comment period, an FY2010 budget presentation, the presentation of a certificate to Deputy Fire Chief Chris Norris, and presentation of the final recommendations from the Best Practices Committee. Download the recommendations online or view reference copies at Forbes Library, Lilly Library, and at City Hall in the offices of the City Council, Mayor, and City Clerk.
The Best Practices presentation and discussion takes place during 1:02:07-1:18:50 on the video. Here are the first two pages from Appendix 16, which contains comments gathered during the 90-day public review (PDF, 353KB).
Video: Best Practices Forum of February 11
Public Comments from Best Practices Forum 2/11/09
Transcribed by Lisa DePiano
General Comments about Recommendations‐
Who gets to decide what happens and how?
Is this making the process harder? More delays
Have Guidelines for committee (new members)
Not everyone has Internet
Space for non‐city committees to meet
Think of out of the box ways for public participation
Timed agendas‐ how is this determined how to people know how much (time)
- Number 1
- Restart Process‐ how will you know if this is necessary
- New ways to hold public hearings‐ too formal
- Accessibility‐make sure room is suitable for hearing disabilities
- Make sure there is an oversight committee to make sure it happens
- Watchdog committee to communicate with public and reach out early on in
- People who may not be on boards/committees ways for them to be involved
- Participatory democracy‐ open system not what the city can teach you
- Include the arts committee
- How to communicate with the public about existing resources
- Stakeholders‐who are they, how do you communicate with them
- Flow of information‐get out agendas with detailed information to residents
before the meetings use email lists
- Get out Notification procedures to residents about zoning changes, road
- Use neighborhood associations every ward could have one, they could work
with the councilor from that ward.
- Have another committee to follow up‐ have representation from
- Citizen participation training‐ how to hold neighborhood councils, have
people pay for the program through paid staff, have continual outreach/
- People respond when they are asked to come face to face
- Use WXOJ radio to communicate
- How do you hold government accountable?
- Who is the City?
- Have implementation (of BP recommendations) be a two way street b/t
citizens and City 1. Assign to city councilors and subcommittees 2. Hold
special council meeting to talk about recommendations
- Citizens taking responsibility (for implementations of rec)
- Awareness that these recommendations exists, alert citizens, have liaisons go
to meetings and make sure they are implementing recommendations
- City School is not accessible to most people, it needs more flexibility
- Citizen outreach‐ we need people out in the community physically delivering
- How do you incorporate people who “walk in” late to meetings
- Budget Road show‐ more of it. Memo for public understanding aside from
forum i.e. amount city contributes to BID
- How do we get out to people who are not already involved
- Committees work with newspaper for more coverage
- Use league of woman voters to get out the citizens guidebook
- Incorporate city school for public school system
- Have committee members take the information out to the public
- Committees have clear job descriptions draw people into committees recruit
- Open Meeting Laws‐ understand it, prevents discussion reform law.
- Use City website‐ have link for committees have job description
- Have book for new committee members‐ already exists for arts council as
model they have term limits
- Multiple positions‐ get rid out‐ more participation, broader participation, no
- List legal requirements for public hearings define terms
- Guide to zoning/planning terms
- Look at relationships to Smith College and the City‐ do a case study on this,
have town/gown committee
- Look at the way the recommendations are written City and citizens work
together. Not imposed by the city to the public. Write them as a call to action,
- Look at redistricting to include neighborhoods do not fragment
- Make sure there is a response that citizens can be heard taken serious
- Think more about the city as a whole do not let ward boundaries fragment
Best Practices Meeting of November 12: Video; Discussion of Term Limits
In many areas the committee members were able to achieve consensus
about which recommendations to put forward to the City Council.
However, some suggestions saw disagreement, notably term limits for
elected and/or appointed officials, which were touched on during 2:29:50-2:34:57.
Video: Best Practices Forum Studies Evolution of Meadows Plan
One particularly interesting segment was the presentation by former
Ward 3 City Councilor Maria Tymoczko. She recounts the troubled
relations between the Three County Fair and residents in the 1970s, and
how neighborhood concerns came to be better respected. This segment
runs from 2min:52sec to 22min:45sec.
Video: Best Practices Workshop Evaluates Public Forum; Hotel Decision-Making Process Scrutinized; Wanting More from Local Media
The committee members discuss the controversial decision-making process involving the downtown Hilton Garden Inn hotel.
Some frustration with local media is expressed–especially with the
Daily Hampshire Gazette–for not giving the matter enough coverage