Saturday, November 19, 2005

Reaching out

This seems like a good idea...

The chairman of the Columbia Association board of directors last week proposed conducting a series of public meeting he hopes will increase resident participation in the board's decisions.

Chairman Joshua Feldmark, of Wilde Lake, proposed Nov. 10 that the board schedule public meetings in each of Columbia's 10 villages next year to allow residents to discuss with the board topics that the board and village officials would chose.

The board would then hold three Columbia-wide meetings on the three most important topics to come out of the village meetings, Feldmark said. Those larger meetings would be tentatively scheduled to occur in September, December and March.

Feldmark said he believes the board can do more to encourage citizen input on the issues it addresses.

Governments (or in CA's case, quasi-governments) should do more to connect with constituents, especially in this age where everyone seems to have millions of things to do, but where we haven't yet found a way to increase the number of hours in a day (or days in a week, Lennon/McCartney notwithstanding).

Of course, as with everything CA does, some are opposed.
(CA Boardmember Barbara) Russell said holding more community meetings would not necessarily improve residents' power to influence the board's decisions since board members would not be obligated to act on the concerns residents express at the meetings.

"All it does is offer people the chance to go to a meeting in CA or in their own village," she said.

Why is the sentiment that the CA board is some runaway body completely disconnected from the realities of the community so endemic? Russell seems to dismiss Feldmark's proposal because it doesn't do enough to engage citizens, but what has she done to engage them? I know she fought against the board restructuring because she thought it would further insulate the board from their constituents. If she has concerns with this or with engagement in general, I'd like to see what she would do to make the situation better.

Sometimes I consider stopping writing about CA altogether. Everything they do is nitpicked to death (yes, I know this whole enterprise of mine is nitpicking, but bear with me), and its members often seem promote controversy for controversy's sake.

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