Meanwhile, my thoughts on transparency. For some, transparent government only means following the letter of the law – open and noticed meetings, agendas, minutes and records done properly so that you can access past decisions and documents, public disclosure of conflicts of interest, etc.
But there is a more foundational aspect to “transparency” that today’s community member wants – to be involved, to be valued and to be heard. Government has been changing the way we do business to accommodate those very democratic desires and I’ve devoted my career to making sure all community members have access to the process in a way that informs decision-makers and helps the community make better decisions. In Lake City, what I’m hearing is that you want to see information and reports online, have access to your government representatives and staff, have the ability to speak at the trustees meetings and to propose a project or discuss an idea, and help guide the community forward with more “bottom up” community planning. People don’t want to just react to other’s future plans, but be in on the planning from the idea stage on in an inclusive process.
The Orton Foundation funded a guide to defining and encouraging an open, inclusive government and I can’t say it better myself: “Inclusive, open governments are ones that encourage community members to fully understand and participate in governance and decision making. To accomplish this, they work to build and maintain strong relationships with community members, communicate and share information regularly, and reach out to citizens whose voices are not normally heard. Open governments promote transparent procedures so that residents know how things work, what to expect, and when to weigh in. Inclusive, open governments know that trust and transparency makes them more effective, and that engaging residents and tapping into local wisdom expands their capacity to solve problems and get things done.”
Why does this matter?
“As community challenges become more complex, as public budgets become smaller, and as pubic trust and good will for government become less generous, local governments are learning that a cooperative, transparent approach is more effective and efficient than an executive, closed-door approach.”
Summary – A government that works through collaborative leadership, builds trust, leverages the good will and skills of the community, draws on their unique knowledge and experience, and builds future capacity by bringing people into the process may be able to deliver amenities and services more effectively and with the most conservative use of resources.
I have learned that this community went through some painful times recently and that hurt and divisiveness still exist among those who felt the impacts. My hope is that we come to some way that these hurts will be healed and that as we go forward - acknowledge that we are all human beings who do the best we can with what we know at the time, make mistakes, have regrets, need forgiveness and a chance to change and move forward.
What is so hopeful to me is how passionate this community is, how united people are about offering the best amenities for residents and guests, and how willing people are to pitch in their time, money and resources to make it happen. I hope you can all realize from an new transplant’s perspective, this town is blessed with great people who have a common vision for the good of the community despite past disagreements. I’ll do my part by continuing to offer ways for you to know more about Town government and keep you better and more easily informed about "how things work, what to expect, and when to weigh in." Thank you for allowing me to work with this uniquely committed and visionary community.
FYI – especially for the Ball Flats neighborhood: This weekend, Greg from our Public Works staff discovered a leak in the 8" water main under the 8 1/2 Street Bridge (Ocean Wave). The leak appears to be a slow "weeping" one - about 50 gals per day - and because of the type of pipe and the way it was inset under the bridge, it is very hard to access. Greg has been monitoring the leak and has contacted the installer to see what he would suggest to pinpoint the area where the pipe is leaking (it is not possible to determine that at this time) and how to best repair it. At this point, because it is slow, we are going to wait and determine what the best course of action is. Greg is also investigating possible repair methods and is aware that repair is more complicated by its location near the Lake Fork. If you have any questions or want to report something new and unusual you see in the area, please don't hesitate to call Town Hall at 944-2333.