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Friday, January 31, 2014

If the City Holds a Public Meeting and Nobody Attends, Does It Make a Sound?

Posted by on Fri, Jan 31, 2014 at 3:06 PM

West Seattle blog reported this morning that no one—scratch that, one person—actually attended a public meeting last night that was held as part of Mayor Murray's search for a new police chief. The object of these meetings is to get community feedback, but no community was there to feedback anyone.

From WSB:

It’s a question almost no one in West Seattle wanted to answer in public, apparently: What do you want in a new Seattle Police Chief?

Thursday night, the citywide tour seeking answers to that question made its West Seattle stop, at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center. We counted one member of the general public. The participant wanted a chief who will support the officers, and who will talk about the positive things police do in the community, on and off the job.

Whoops. I guess having a flow chart doesn't mean anything if you don't do enough outreach? Or maybe the general public isn't taking this seriously enough? Surely the issue is not that the people in this city don't want to have any input on their future chief of police. Humans of the 206: If you'd like to show up to any of the rest of these meetings, the schedule is right here and below the jump.

Rainier Valley
Saturday, February 1, 12-2 p.m.
Van Asselt Community Center, Multi-purpose Room
2920 S Myrtle St

Lake City
Tuesday, February 4, 6-8 p.m.
Pinehurst K-8 School, Lunchroom
11530 12th Ave NE

Wednesday, February 5, 6-8 p.m.
Nordic Heritage Museum, Auditorium
3014 NW 67th St

Thursday, February 6, 6-8 p.m.
Seattle City Hall, Bertha Knight Landes Reception Room
600 Fourth Avenue


Comments (12) RSS

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Tell us how the hearings in the Central District and other neighborhoods went. West Seattle is, for lack of a better phrase, a little too White to care that much about the police.
Posted by wxPDX on January 31, 2014 at 3:35 PM · Report this

Personally, I'd like a chief that actually puts police on foot more. I see things like the parking enforcement people zipping up and down the street with their scanners and police cruising through in patrol cars, but it seems nobody gets out of their vehicles in City Council District 5.

Parking all the way to the intersection (seeminly permitting to ~5 ft the 30 ft setback from stop signs, 20 ft from crosswalks) and drivers not yielding to pedestrians at both marked and unmarked crosswalks is a low danger priority, but certainly impacts how walkable my neighborhood is.
Posted by ChefJoe on January 31, 2014 at 3:58 PM · Report this
fletc3her 3
I went to a SoundTransit meeting once in Bellevue and was the only person there. They gamely went through their presentation and I shuffled out at the end. True story.
Posted by fletc3her on January 31, 2014 at 3:58 PM · Report this
Sargon Bighorn 5
#1 you have no idea what you're talking about. Shut it until you do.
Posted by Sargon Bighorn on January 31, 2014 at 5:20 PM · Report this
TVDinner 6
Public meetings as a means of engaging the public is an insane, outmoded, lazy, and wholly incompetent way of conducting "outreach." They fill me fury. Who the fuck has the time to show up for the most boring motherfucking thing on earth? CRAZY PEOPLE. And then you have public policy driven by the crazy people who show up to give public input. WHICH IS EVEN CRAZIER.

Anyone who works in government and believes public meetings are worthwhile is likely a fascist fool and deserves public shaming, provided you can get a public to show up for the shaming.

Speak Up Austin is a good example of public engagement without the fucking farce of these fucking meetings.
Posted by TVDinner http:// on January 31, 2014 at 6:20 PM · Report this
@6--That Austin "community engagement portal" is swell, but there are many people (majority?) who don't hang around on blogs and the internet all day.

And sometimes public meetings are the best way for outraged people get in the face of the bureaucrats. It's not just crazy people. Many grievances are real.

Best "community engagement" is elections.
Posted by TobyinFremont on January 31, 2014 at 6:46 PM · Report this
TVDinner 8
@7: I hear the argument that community meetings are more "inclusive" than web-based outreach from time to time, and it blows my mind. I mean, what percentage of the population has access to the interwebs versus has the time/patience/work schedule/child care/interest to show up at a public meeting?

You're right that elections are the ultimate form of public engagement, but police chief isn't an elected office. Maybe it should be.

And you're also right that sometimes it is an opportunity for people to object to serious policy mishaps, but all too often it's a rote dance engaged in as part of public process without it actually being, you know, a public process.

I believe in democracy, and I believe we can do it better. If no one shows up for your meeting, you're doing it wrong.
Posted by TVDinner http:// on January 31, 2014 at 7:21 PM · Report this
9 Comment Pulled (Spam) Comment Policy
pdonahue 10
Notice the Garfield Community center isn't on that list?
Posted by pdonahue on January 31, 2014 at 10:34 PM · Report this
I'd like a police chief that can do his job without violating civil rights, and a city government that can find such a police chief without having to solicit bullshit community input that they're never going to do anything with.

What's next an online poll over what kind of TP the city council should be using?
Posted by madcap on February 1, 2014 at 12:19 AM · Report this
To answer your question.....

Yeah, it's a fart-like sound.

Why must I explain these things?
Posted by sgt_doom on February 1, 2014 at 11:07 AM · Report this
Catalina Vel-DuRay 14
TV dinner dear, it's not that I don't agree with you, but here's the thing: in most cases those meetings are required by statute, and if government tried to get rid of them, the professional squeaky wheels would blow a gasket.

I've been at meetings where I've been accused of being everything under the sun, and all you can do is stand there and take it. It's dreadful and a waste of money and resources. But I don't see them ending anytime soon.
Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay on February 1, 2014 at 3:02 PM · Report this

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