Tonight at 6 PM, the Seattle City Council will be holding a Town Hall meeting at University Heights Center. If my information is correct, this is the first town hall meeting held since 2009. A few months ago, I made a post explaining how attending a public meeting won't change the outcome of a decision. Keep that in mind if you attend tonight! But what I really want to discuss today is why open agenda meetings should be a regular occurrence.
Even if I don't think you'll be able to change the elected official's mind, I still believe legislative bodies should hold regular, open topic, public meetings for three reasons:
The public must have the opportunity to see what their elected officials are doing. The primary responsibility of a legislative body is to deliberate and decide on important policy decisions. Open public meetings are essential to the public knowing why their elected officials are making decisions, even if they don't agree with them.
There must be an opportunity for the public to hold their elected officials accountable in a public forum. Before and after a controversial decision is made, it is critical that the public has the chance to understand why these decisions are made. Without a chance to ask the tough questions, it is impossible for the public to be informed on their elected official's stance on important issues.
We have an extremely well educated and informed population. There are countless citizens who experience problems that are just not being addressed. Elected officials must solicit input from the public on which issues are important and must be addressed. Sometimes non-action is deliberate, but may times it is due to a disconnect between the people and their elected officials. A lack of knowledge on an issue should never be an excuse for inaction.
We should be holding more open forums like this. There should be regular city council (and port commission) meetings held at 6 PM, with a open agenda, allowing questions and comments from the public on any issue.