council transparency

A simple thing City Council could do is update their meeting minutes template. The legalese and lack of detail make it impossible for citizens to know what actions city council took. When council disposes of property (ie: taxpayer assets), a listing of that property and where it is being sold should be available online.

Agendas for meetings, work sessions, commissions and committees should also be written in layman’s terms and include enough detail that a citizen can clearly understand if an issue impacts them and/or their property.

All City Council meetings and work sessions should be live streamed online and archived on the city’s website. No work sessions, or meetings of any kind, should take place during traditional work hours, Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. When City Council work sessions are held on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., the majority of working people cannot attend to give their input.

Communication that Informs the Public (for free) 

The city relies on the local newspaper to notify and inform the public. Even though I love and support local journalism, it shouldn’t cost money to find out what your government is doing. Ideally, Maryville, Alcoa and Blount County could provide subsidies to The Daily Times to remove the online paywall. In all honesty, I don’t know if they’d be open to it or if budgets would tolerate that expense.

Here’s what we can and should do. 

  1. Make notifications easy to find online and easy to understand. Provide enough detail that citizens understand whether or not City Council is taking action that would impact them and/or their property.
  2. Allow individuals to sign up for email notifications. When notices and agendas are posted, those individuals receive an automated email.
  3. Advertise this and other services in The Daily Times to support local journalism.