In a brief update today, the city started a new process to address citizens.
Check out this new site, which is presented to answer questions asked during council meetings or submitted through the (email). We’ll start out with the April 6 meeting, with new followup provided 1 week after each meeting. Visit Public Comment Followup.
The city has recently passed stricter rules, to impose on itself and citizens, pertaining to citizen comment. That new guidance has council limiting itself and other elected officials from engaging with citizens directly during public comment. In practice, this does seem to be a selectively enforced rule with the city routinely happy to discuss lighter topics or compliments, with vigor at times, but remaining generally quiet or with the Mayor telling citizens things like, "you've been heard" or "thank you for your thoughts" without any substantive reply in many cases.
As it did during the pool debate, the city seems to have decided that it is okay to restate citizen questions when answering on this page - here is a now famous example of that practice during former Mayor Shannon Turk's 2019 State of the Community meeting.
Do you feel the city has the right to "interpret" citizen comments in any way, shape or form or do you feel they should be read verbatim and answered as such?
While the basic concept is a welcome step in the right direction, initial execution leaves much to be desired with portions like the following that seems to rephrase a citizen's comment from the 4/06 council meeting (here is that meeting video, it seems that the citizen comment referenced in this question and answer starts around the 8:45 mark). During the meeting, that citizen stated, "I don't come here today... to ask IF these purchases are valid, I'm here to ask HOW we can possibly consider them now and in this reality (COVID-19)"
The city seems to have decided that this citizen MEANT that they needed a technical answer about why the purchase "needed" to be finalized on April 6th based on their rephrasing and chosen answer?
QUESTION: Why did the Purchase and Sale Agreements need to be finalized April 6 - Why Now? (04/06/2020)
ANSWER: The timing of finalizing the last acquisitions is based on the terms of the purchase and sales agreements and cannot be postponed without penalty and threat of losing the property. (Jerry Acheson, Parks & Recreation Manager)
Here's another question, oddly phrased question with a brief, non-specific answer:
QUESTION: Does it infer the inevitability of the City approving urban uses in North Shore? (04/06/2020)
ANSWER: No. (Phil Bourquin, Community Development Director)
Well, that solves that I guess.
On the positive side, this new page is separated into simple sections with a navigation on top that users can use to quickly jump down to to needed information - Is this a polite nod to WATCH Camas' new WATCHED Website for the roundabout? If so we're flattered and we appreciate the move towards a clear display of information here. We hope you'll continue the work by combining the two lake road websites into one with the same anchored navigation approach.
Finally, a note on the city's lead image for this update. It's a simple photo that, like many others, WATCH Camas assumes citizens have paid consultants to produce as we don't know of a graphic designer on staff at the city. This image was named simply, "AskAnswered.png".
So, do you have all of the answers that you need now Camas?