Facilitator: William Tarter, Jr.
Three major takeaways:

  1. The challenge is to make a seemingly complex topic and make it simply for folks to understand.  Don’t just tell us what or how, tell us why!
  2. Why doesn’t the Charter Review Commission operate independently of the Council?  Why does it have to give recommendations to the Council for approval before it is put to the voters?  Ironically, if the Commission wanted to make a recommendation on how to change the Council (ex. Term Limits), they would have to get the approval of Council to put it before the voters!  Commission should forward recommendations directly to the voters to decide.  It is our charter to amend.
  3. Council meetings should be the absolute minimum in public outreach.  Use emerging mediums such as smartphones, apps, mobile versions of websites, Twitter and Facebook. Use traditional methods such as Town Halls, Posters and hotlines. Why isn’t there a Office of Public Engagement, such as what was recommended in the Transition, that would enable these things to happen quickly and easily?

Next Steps

  1. There should be a link on the County Executive Website for applications to the “Charter Review Commission” so that people can apply prior to the body being assembled next year.  If the public would like to serve on the Commission, just like the other Boards and Commissions, they should apply through the County website. (County Executive staff)
  2. There needs to be a box on the County Council and County Executive Website that says “Charter Suggestions” and have those suggestions forwarded to the Commission. (County Website team)
  3. Council needs to immediately set into motion the process for the Charter Commission to make recommendations that will go straight to the voters.  This would increase trust in the process.  The Council has the ability to put amendments on the ballot in 2012 and this is one thing that needs to be on the ballot and approved before the Commission makes recommendations in July 2013.  (Council)
  4. Educate ourselves now.  We need to understand and break down the Charter so that it is easily communicated to our fellow citizens.  We need to note things in the Charter that need changes so that the Commission can hit the ground running and we can continue being engaged throughout the entire process.  We cannot, as citizens, just start this process in September when the Commission is already formed.

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