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Friday, April 23, 2010

Township Advisory Meetings

I established a position a few weeks ago that the Policing Advisory Committee should be open. Folks who do volunteer work for the Township and villages, generally do not like Texas open meetings, because nothing off the agenda can take place at the meeting. The idea here is to open the meetings to the residents and allow a wider level of participation. The public needs to be able to listen, speak and be heard. They need to know. It is important for many reasons. I am hearing other candidates begin to speak out also now. An open government is essential for public confidence and ultimately budget control. The Open Meetings Act is designed to give the public more control over the outcome.  This particular subject is even more important than the other advisory committees in that respect. 

Although the current process was recommended by the Village Liaison Committee and endorsed by the Township Board, I believe the process falls way short on what is actually needed. Establishing a village representative to ensure all villages are represented and there is consistent attendance is important, but those representatives will not represent the public in general. Those elected to the villages are not diverse enough for this subject. They are typically entrenched in their own perspectives. Those people normally represent informed residents and those who have skills and confidence enough to run for a village office.

Those residents behind closed doors who are afraid to step out will step out to attend police advisory meetings! That is evident from the first Watch meeting.

Representation is not through villages. It is by personal involvement. Conduct these meetings openly with published agendas and give people an opportunity to speak. There is no need in my mind to confine the agenda, but perhaps it would better serve the public anyway. Make the minutes available to the public. This is no longer an association. It is a government that needs to be transparent in every way possible. This is possible!

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