The newest item on the list of goals is to improve communications between the public and city hall. Presently, that consists of a recap of city council meetings on the KUMA Coffee Hour, and a feel-good monthly newsletter, essentially yesterday’s news, on the city website.
It seems city officials have yet to realize, much like the school district discovered during the pandemic, not everyone has internet access in their homes. If you don’t have that service, attending the council meetings is your best alternative to get any meaningful information on current city affairs. Just don’t expect to add your two cents. City councilors have been reluctant to permit open, meaningful discussions on agenda items, citing time constraints and limiting public comments to the first 15 minutes of the meeting as long as they don’t pertain to those items on the agenda.
They seem to have forgotten that communication is a two-way street. Strong-arm tactics, such as the attempts to force a city gas tax on the public, with that “my way or the highway” style of communication just doesn’t get it with the public.
With recent contradictory statements from city management and staff concerning the drought situation and future water supplies, it seems the lack of communication between the city manager and his staff is a significant problem. When I first began attending city council meetings, I was chastised more than once for bringing up questions the mayor and councilors felt were to trivial or inappropriate for the council meetings. The proper route, they explained, was to go directly to the city manager. That turned out to be an exercise in futility, as in most cases the reply was simply “I don’t know,” and then be directed to one of the various department managers, giving the perception the left hand had no idea what the right hand was doing.
Communications starts at the top, a part of the job that’s not presently getting done.