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watcher View Drop Down
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    Posted: 02/March/2008 at 8:05am
Via the homes for parking discussion the question of attendance at council meetings was touched.

Council meetings are not an e-ticket ride, they can be dry, procedural, in a word... boring. There are always highlights and occasional fireworks, but face it, the village council is not assembled for our entertainment.

In the opening segment of the Feb. 23rd meeting there was an announcement by the Mayor that thanks to Comcast and the village's website team, video of council meetings can be viewed on the website.
So far only the Jan 14th meeting is posted online. The council should be encouraged to make this a routine part of their process and strive to get the videos posted as soon as practical after the meetings.

After a brief summary of the village's finances by the village's auditor, there was a short flurry of thanks that I think went from the council (Hoskins? Curry?) to Adminstrator Sturino for watching over the audit, from the Adm. to Mayor for watching over the Adm., the mayor to the council for watching over the mayor, then from the council (Hosty?) to the audience for watching over the whole process.

Who goes to council meetings and Why? Is it vital that the public be in attendance or is it enough that the media is there? The Review reports the highlights and the whole thing is recorded and broadcast 4 days later. Is a live audience necessary? Does it influence the process?
If so, what is optimal attendance? What ratio of interested observers to participants keeps things honest?



"It is a wreave belief that we already are in Hell."- Tuluk in Frank Herbert's "Whipping Star"
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote citizen Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02/March/2008 at 9:15am
i don't know.
 
i do know our citizens are not politically organized.
we currently have three vehicles - CUinFP (with no political arm), the Review and FPF. all of which the mayor's organization works actively to marginalize.
 
the review will never allign w/a citizens group, and rightly so.
 
CUinFP could be more formidable on issues and/or form a political arm. in either case, would need influx of citizens to sustain/create.
 
FPF? we do our job ok - awareness, kicking around issues.
wonder if we created a 'side bar' where folks posted w/real names. more legitimacy?
 
or create a new organization?
 
50 folks could show up for a vc mtg, but when the mtg is over, where is the unity?
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Chuck Hoehne Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02/March/2008 at 11:22am

Watcher,

Thanks for starting this topic.

Several years ago, there was a couple living next door to me that was very committed to making FP a better place to live. He served on a few committees, coached soccer, little league, etc. She was the president of the PTA. A great family- husband, wife, two kids.  On their way out of town, he wrote a letter to the FP Review saying they were leaving in no small part because of apathy in this town. The letter included a statement that they wanted to live in a town with like-minded neighbors who cared enough about their community to get involved.

At the time, I thought, what’s this dude’s problem? Things seem to be going okay to me. As long as someone else is willing to step up, why should I?

Flash forward to November 2006, at the infamous Eminent Domain Village Council Meeting. Residents packed Village Hall and the will of the people was heard and respected. I wonder if the outcome that night would have been different if all of those residents in attendance would have waited for the broadcast on TV.

Also, having sat in on the meeting this past Monday and then watching the tape on Friday, I was struck by how one camera has a very hard time really capturing the feel of the room. The camera cannot capture body language, facial reactions, etc. to the speaker’s words.  On TV you get the basic information, but you do not feel the raw emotion of the room.

Watching the broadcast of the VC meetings is an important way to gain information, but it is no substitute for actually attending the meetings and physically getting involved.

Here’s the thing- I believe Village Hall wants and needs your help. They need problem solvers. I believe the Village itself wants and needs your help as well. As long as only a few folks get involved, it is very hard to have true village-wide representation on the issues.

Someone mentioned previously that my work on the Parking Committee must be fairly thankless. Of course there have been many moments where that that has been true. Fortunately, there have been just as many moments that have been very rewarding. As I have indicated previously, trying to make a positive difference in your community in and of itself feels really good.

If you are already involved, stay involved. If you are not involved, get involved. Please.

Your neighbor,

Chuck

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote watcher Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04/March/2008 at 7:27am
Originally posted by Chuck Hoehne Chuck Hoehne wrote:

If you are already involved, stay involved. If you are not involved, get involved. Please.


Easy to say, harder to do. HOW?

I understand what you're saying. I just wonder if attendance is the means to that end. I qualify as a meeting burn-out. Having attended and participated in hundreds of civic meetings over the years, I don't think the process is designed for participation. At some point between the excitement of organizaton and the established routine, opportunity for actual input has been lost.

Where is the need? Attendance is generally out of self-interest. It's not a drop-in discussion. It's not a platform. The process is interesting to who? IOW, where is the calling?
What are the rules of engagement? Does one simply wait for a topic of interest to cycle on to the agenda then dive in? If a topic of interest doesn't pop up, how does one raise one?

Are there wide-ranging forums to which people can bring both general and specific concerns? Meet and share thoughts ideas and concerns? Find common cause, organize and support each other? Heck, even CUinFP has adopted a topic driven agenda. How does that contribute to the discourse?

There is a balkanization in our bureaucracies that works against any hope of unity. Meetings, by and large, are a self-congratulatory validation exercise that is turf-oriented.

I don't have answers to this. At least none that work from a push-in plan.


"It is a wreave belief that we already are in Hell."- Tuluk in Frank Herbert's "Whipping Star"
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Chuck Hoehne Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04/March/2008 at 12:50pm

Watcher,

As usual, excellent and well-stated points. I know how naïve I sound, especially to those who have been burned.

There seems to be a disconnect, doesn’t there? The few folks involved speak of the burden of carrying the weight, while many on the sidelines wonder how to get into the game…

Transparency was a major campaign promise made the last go round. Progress has been made. The agenda and source documents are now posted on-line before meetings. For better or worse, signs are being posted for zoning variances. Soon VC meetings will be routinely available on-line at the Village web-site.

But transparency involves much more than that, doesn’t it? Transparency also means opening up doors and inviting people in to have a look around. It means making efforts to engage folks in the decision making process - giving them a voice and listening to them. Perhaps hardest of all, it means ceding power to the public.

What I am saying is that the burden falls not just with the residents to get involved. The burden also falls on the Village to bridge the gap.

I wonder if the Village would consider forming a formal Citizen’s Advisory Board (CAB). The CAB’s primary objective would be to serve as a liaison between the Village (Village Hall, VC, etc.) and the residents. The CAB could serve as a sounding board for residents, while giving the Village a way to assess the will of the people. The Board could match folk’s interests with needs in the Village. Reports could be included on VC agendas.

What do you think? Would a CAB help bridge the gap? Would you be willing to be a CAB driver?

Your neighbor,

Chuck

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Katie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04/March/2008 at 1:27pm
Chuck, In theory that is a great idea. However, there is a long history of boards, councils, committees, etc. being stacked with people who blindly promote the mayor's causes and do not seem to be open to other suggestions or even willing to consider the possibility that there might be other options. Cases in point: an ethics commission which has met only once, despite the fact that there have been questions of conflict of interest on the part of some council members; a historical preservation commission that is not being consulted on the current question of homes for parking (and possible involvement of historic properties); a police and fire commission that voted to fire a guy because he swore, but somehow can't recognize problems with police officers who have injured civilians and resulted in the village paid damages to those civilians.

Sorry if I seem a little jaded, Chuck, but I cannot help but wonder if there is any possibility of the village government, as it is currently configured, participating in any open and honest dialog with the citizens.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote piehead Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04/March/2008 at 2:30pm
Originally posted by Chuck Hoehne Chuck Hoehne wrote:

I wonder if the Village would consider forming a formal Citizen’s Advisory Board (CAB). The CAB’s primary objective would be to serve as a liaison between the Village (Village Hall, VC, etc.) and the residents. The CAB could serve as a sounding board for residents, while giving the Village a way to assess the will of the people. The Board could match folk’s interests with needs in the Village. Reports could be included on VC agendas.

What do you think? Would a CAB help bridge the gap? Would you be willing to be a CAB driver?

Your neighbor,

Chuck

 
If this Board was yet another board handpicked by Tony, my short answer is NO.  It would just be more of the same...like Katie mentions in her post.
 
And Tony believes anyone that thinks different than him is against him.  So not helpful.


Edited by piehead - 04/March/2008 at 2:30pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Chuck Hoehne Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04/March/2008 at 3:28pm

I hear you Katie, but I do have one important caveat – I think it is really unfair to cast such a broad brush against all members of the various boards/committees. I think most folks join boards to make a positive difference in our Village.  It certainly isn’t for the pay, and it certainly isn’t for the fun. We all want what is best for Forest Park. That is the commonality we have to hang on to. The differences are in the details.

It seems term limits would mitigate both cronyism and burn-out, no? Rotating 4 year appointments would assure at least a 25% turnover annually. This is a notion I’d support for all of the Boards by the way.

But you’re right, Katie; the above is the easy part. It would take a big buy in and push from our elected officials to make it work. It seems the VC is trying to improve transparency. Wouldn’t it be great if one or more of them would make this his/their legacy rather than parking lot expansion?

For me personally, the alternatives to at least trying to get involved are unacceptable. It is up to each person reading this to decide what if anything they want to do about this situation.

By the way, there are many other ways to get involved besides serving on boards, committees, etc. How about walking your children to school and speaking to other parents? How about walking around the block and chatting with neighbors (I am so ready for Spring!)? How about coaching little league or just going to a game every now and then? How about hosting a backyard barbecue and talking about the issues? How about approaching a commissioner and introducing yourself? How about writing letters to the paper? How about reading a statement during the public comment portion of the VC meetings?

I know I am preaching to the choir, and I apologize for that.

Chuck

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote watcher Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04/March/2008 at 5:06pm
Originally posted by Chuck H. Chuck H. wrote:

]There seems to be a disconnect, doesn’t there? The few folks involved speak of the burden of carrying the weight, while many on the sidelines wonder how to get into the game…



It's more than a disconnect. It's a rampant epidemic in most organizations.

That's part of the balkanization to which I alluded. Somewhere on these pages we've hashed this around before.

I don't see you as naive. You speak of things as we expect them to be; as they should be. That things are done by well-meaning people for
the greater good. The reality is a little different. Reality is single parent homes or two-working parents, it's competing against the health club, Wii, starbucks, dining out, must see tv and just plain exhaustion. Surprise; attending meetings at which you have no standing or stake in the process or outcome loses that coin toss.

The reality in FoPa is even more different because of the high school situation. The pool of potential volunteers has a direct relationship. We're missing the kind of seasoned community members who walked their kids to school, coached little league, ran scout troops, helped out at Market Day, pancake breakfasts and spaghetti dinners. People like your former neighbors whose children had reached self-sufficiency freeing the parents up to get involved. I'm sure they've found ways to get involved in their new community.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Katie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04/March/2008 at 8:59pm
Chuck, I'm sorry if I gave the impression that I painted all committee members as the same. I know there are some who are trying to hear all points of view. Unfortunately, I have attended too many meetings where community members have spoken out against a plan, but their points get pushed aside either by the committee or the VC. I am one of those parents who walked the kids to school, helped out at Market Day, was a Scout leader, sat through many a soccer, flag football, and floor hockey game, walk the neighborhood and talk to the neighbors, etc. But the last election certainly made me wonder about my fellow citizens--the perfect opportunity to have a more balanced VC was completely ignored. The result--more misguided moves such as homes for parking, siphoning funds out of the VIP fund rather than fixing the infrastructure, more police related law suits. So again, Chuck, I think you have wonderful ideas and hope you can bring some to fruition. 

Edited by Katie - 04/March/2008 at 8:59pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote watcher Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05/March/2008 at 8:57am
We are also affected by a seeming infinite number of boards, committees, councils.
3 school boards, library, park district, village, state, county, township, plus all the committees and sub-committees contained therein. Sub-levels, ad-hoc groups and community organizations...

I posted info about next week's RTA hearing in Oak Park for the Cook-DuPage corridor.

The website for that effort lists 4 committees who've been "meeting" since Jan. 2006.

RTA committee summaries

Reading through their meeting summaries is glaze-over territory. Agreement? Quorum of the members was difficult enough.

So, I'm not knocking the whole get involved idea, but I do understand the bewilderment involved in getting involved.

I've also mentioned the FoPa Community Education Council before. It was started by Art Jones when he was Supt. of Dist. 91. It's purpose was to monitor need, coordinate efforts and streamline the process. By last report they are still meeting, but their purpose has changed. They now have their own boutique projects.

Short of starting another entity to articulate between the wide-ranging turfs controlled by all dedicated, involved folks, and their piece of the fiefland. What's a body to do?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote watcher Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22/March/2015 at 12:39pm
Bump. What a difference 7 years doesn't make. I don't know if Chuck is still in town, but I wonder what he would make of the PROGRESS we've made.

"It is a wreave belief that we already are in Hell."- Tuluk in Frank Herbert's "Whipping Star"
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