January 23, 2018

E-Days and Other Upcoming Events

The ore cart pull ... all the way from Golden to the State Capitol.

March 29-31, Colorado School of Mines E-Days
You’ll find details about the ore cart pull and all of the other E-Day events on CSM’s website, but the fireworks show has been cancelled because of the fire ban and may get rescheduled for later in the year.

April 5, City Council Study Session
City Hall at 7 p.m. The agenda tentatively includes interviews for openings on the GURA board, a discussion about works plans for the Historic Preservation Board and the Economic Development Commission, and a discussion of the tobacco sales ordinance.

April 12, Ethics in Business Luncheon
It’s at the Denver Marriott West from 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. You’ll find more info about the event on the Rotary Club of Golden website.

April 12, City Council Business Meeting
City Hall at 7 p.m. The agenda tentatively includes awarding the utilities replacement bid, several proclamations and an award for the city’s Public Works Department, an ordinance on sidewalk seating, landscaping requirements for commercial and multifamily properties, and awarding this round of i-Neighborhood Matching Grants.

April 14, Coffee With a Councilor
You’ll find City Councilors from District 1 (South Golden), including Saoirse Charis-Graves and maybe others as well at Read, Write and Brew starting at 9 a.m. It’s a great informal opportunity to chat with your City Council representatives about the pedestrian bridge over U.S. 6, the South Neighborhoods Plan, or whatever else is on your mind.

April 18, One Book One Golden Event
One Book One Golden: An event with Craig Barnes, the author of “Growing Up True.” 7 p.m. at Foss Auditorium (American Mountaineering Center).

City Council Webcasts Are Online

It took them a little while longer than expected but the webcast is now on the city's web site. Just scroll down to the bottom of the page. I haven't had a chance to do anything but skip around for a few minutes but what I saw looked and sounded pretty good. Now I know why everyone jokes about my talking with my hands!

The whole point of this cablecasting/webcasting program is to make City Council more transparent and accessible, so please send in your comments and thoughts after you've had a chance to look at it so we can make sure that this works as well as possible. We've already heard some good suggestions.

TV Time at City Hall

We did it – our first televised City Council meeting. The DVDs and web download version won’t be available until Monday, though, so those of us who were on tv won’t have a chance to see how it looked until then. A few folks sent emails last night saying they thought it worked well but I welcome thoughts from anyone and everyone. You can email me directly or, if you are willing to share the readers of the blog, post them here. We had some colorful discussions about public art and what to do with the land north of town that we purchased as part of the city maintenance shops project and I’ll report on those over the next couple of days. Thanks to everyone who pushed for so long to make televising City Council meetings a reality.

Effectively Reaching Out to City Council

I energetically welcome folks in the community reaching out to me and to the rest of City Council. I think being accessible to the folks we represent is a critical part of our job. That said, there are more and less effective ways to communicate with your City Council representatives, and I thought I would offer some suggestions on what seem to me to be the most effective ways of communicating with us.

First, if you are going to email me a letter, I find it much easier to read it if it’s inserted in your email rather than if you attach it as a separate document. I read every email I get, and it takes me twice or three times as long if I have to open an attachment. The easier it is for me to read through my emails, the more likely each email will get the attention it deserves. Making it hard to get through my inbox (especially since there are lots of other emails from lots of other folks with lots of other issues) adds to the annoyance factor without helping make your case.

Second, send your email to either the general City Council address or to each of our individual addresses but don’t send them to both, since the general one goes to everyone already and then we each end up getting duplicates. Flooding our inboxes with bunches of duplicates adds to the annoyance factor and doesn’t help persuade anyone to vote the way you want folks to vote.

Third, the most effective and persuasive letters are individual letters clearly written by the person sending it. The least effective are form letters. If you’ve got a group of folks that all feel the same way, instead of having each person send a form letter I think you’ll pack just as much punch by sending a single letter signed by everyone. The level of support is just as clear and I spend ten minutes reading one letter with tons of signatures instead of an hour or two or more dealing with tons of virtually identical emails.

I can’t speak for anyone else on City Council, but from my perspective being effective isn’t about how much time it takes me to deal with a flooded inbox but rather by how efficiently you convey the depth of support for whatever view you all hold. I think the same is true for public comment at City Council meetings, by the way. Twenty people all making the same point over and over again during a public comment period or during a public hearing is less effective than it could be. I believe strongly that everyone deserves a chance to be heard, and I don’t mind our Council meetings running late because lots of folks want a chance to speak up, but it’s a lot more effective for each of the twenty folks to say something that hasn’t been said before, or just to say they agree with the previous speaker.

I’ll reiterate that I’m only speaking for myself, and it’d be interesting to hear what others on Council think about this.

Golden City Council Goes Live

At long last, we’ll start broadcasting City Council study sessions and regular meetings on Comcast cable channel 8. You can watch live at 7 p.m. on most Thursday nights, and Comcast is planning to rebroadcast the meetings at various times of day throughout the rest of the week. It’s funny to think that we’ll have our very own City Council meeting reruns, but I’m hoping for the cost and effort that it makes City Council more accessible and accountable. If you don’t get Comcast you can watch via downloadable webcasts. These will be posted on the city’s web site on the Saturday after each Council meeting. Finally, you can also check out DVDs and video tapes of the meetings from the Golden Public Library (1019 10th St.).

It’s not cheap to do this well (meaning to do it so that you can clearly hear what folks are saying and clearly see who is talking), and our three-month trial will run about $20,000, but I’ve been supporting the idea since I first ran for City Council and I think it will be worthwhile. I am suggesting that Council adopt some means of measuring how effective the trial is, in part to make sure that it ends up being a good use of public dollars (as I think it will) and in part to make sure we learn from our experience and adjust the program to best meet the needs of the community. If no one downloads the webcast from the web site, then perhaps we can save some money by just broadcasting on cable. Similarly, if everyone downloads and watches on their computer instead of watching on Comcast, then the public’s dollars might be better invested in broadcasting the meetings live on the web (which we won’t be doing now) instead of on cable. That discussion is scheduled for this week’s study session, which means that you can tune in or watch it later off on the city’s web site.

Finally, I’m also asking all of you, if you have an opinion, to weigh in. Over the next three months, please let me and the rest of Council know if you find it helpful, why you find it helpful if you do, and what we can do to improve the service. You can send an email to City Council or post a comment right here on my community blog.

City Council Packets Now Online

In both of my City Council campaigns and during my year on Council I’ve pushed for and supported efforts to make city government more transparent and more accessible to people in the community. The latest step is the posting of the complete City Council meeting packets online on the city’s web site. The packets include all of the proposed resolutions and ordinances plus all the background material that City Councilors get every week. They are frequently lengthy, often 5 to 6 MB (meaning long download times unless you have a very fast connection). Packets are scheduled to be posted the Friday evening before the following City Council meeting.

Also, in April we begin a trial program of taping and broadcasting City Council meetings. I have no idea what that will be like but it’s something that I and others on Council have long supported and I look forward to the experiment. Both study sessions and regular City Council meetings will air live on Comcast channel 8, and web casts will be available on the Saturday following the meeting at www.cityofgolden.net.

If you have any questions or suggestions about improving citizen access to City documents, you can each call the City Clerk’s office (303) 384-8015 or let me know.