- Burlington VT - Ward 4 and Ward 7

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City Council:

#1 - Roll call voting should be used for all resolutions, amendments and commission/board appointments and the results should be clearly listed on the city's website. (McIntyre)

#2 - To help the City Council conduct its business while residents and its members are still fully alert, limit City Councilors to three minutes on any topic in the first round of discussion and then allow them to continue in subsequent rounds only as long as at least three Councilors want to continue discussing it. This is a modification of Council rules and it should help Councilors at least as much as residents. Ideas, thoughts, and possible solutions come up for the public during a session debate, not just by Councilors.  It will also encourage people to stay later at Council meetings and participate in our governmental process. (Rooney/Stuono)

#3 - Council Packets must be made available to public before session, and preferably on-line, days in advance. (Stuono)

#4 - Council Executive sessions: More detail needs to be made publicly available on these, especially on topics well before the Council session.  It must be proven to show why a subject must be done in Executive Session.  Nevertheless, votes should be public, and as much of the actual debate as possible.  Executive sessions as a rule should be used only when a strong and clear reason for doing so exists, and time in executive session must be kept to a minimum.  More stringent rules on executive sessions should be adopted.  City Councilors should be allowed to relay information from executive sessions after the fact, if decisions are made. (Stuono)

Board Appointments:

#1 - All Board and Commission nominees will be interviewed by the City Council in public and voted upon individually in public with a voice vote.  This could happen at a City Council Meeting or at a separately held Board and Commission nomination meeting duly warned, given the press of business to be handled at the City Council Meetings. (Rooney)

#2 - Openings should be advertised at least two weeks ahead of time to recruit the most qualified applicants. (Stuono)

#3 - Thought should be given to have fair representation of most Wards. (Stuono)

#4 - All applicants names should be publicly known, and their applications publicly available prior to Council. (Stuono)

#5 - Council should vote on applicants individually. It's OK for the Council to discuss the individuals in private, but voting should be public.  It's important for people to know who supported whom. (Stuono)

#6 - Board terms of length should be reduced (what are they now, one year?).  Re-appointment not automatic, as it is currently viewed.  An analysis of member’s past contribution should be done each time.  Some Board members appear to contribute little, are frequently unprepared, and simply show up to vote (or not show up at all). (Stuono)

Government Meetings:

#1 - Equal time for public in meetings. Now public has a limited time to testify, while developers and administrators are called to answer questions and lobby for a position during the meeting. The public should have a chance to respond in kind during the meeting. (McGrew)

#2 - Controversial, high public interest items taken up first, not last. (McGrew)

#3 - "Interested party" should be defined broadly, especially with issues that have implications for the city at large. Whole neighborhoods have interests as well.  Neighbors should be informed by mail about a proposed project in their area.
Parties may be both self-interested and civic-minded. Don't assume we don't want what's best for the city. Don't automatically believe what the insiders are telling you.  They have a self-interest, too, and they are not always truthful. (McGrew)

#4 - All government meetings, including committee meetings, should be video-recorded and broadcast, if at all possible:  rooms in City Hall can be easily permanently wired for this, if not already done so.  One can have a fixed camera/mikes if needed.  While quality of the recording is important (i.e. hiring CCTV to do this), it's more important to just have adequate record keeping of the proceeding.  It doesn't have to be super-polished at the onset.  We will improve this as we go. (Stuono)

#5 - Government meetings should have standardized rooms: the constant switching of rooms thwarts public input. Oftentimes rooms are also too small to accommodate public.  Do you know that many people have tried to find Board meetings and thought they were cancelled when they couldn’t find them, then went home, when instead the meetings  were moved to the library?  Do you know that the library front doors are closed and locked and many people couldn't get in to recent meetings?  Do you know that one recent DRB meeting in the P & Z office had too many people to get in the room, and many residents then just left? (Stuono)


#1 - In public testimony, all Commission, Board, and City Council members should give the speaker their full attention.  Allow two way conversations, so questions could be asked of the speakers, if at all possible. This should be looked at as a time of "discovery”.  I've seen some committees do this procedure quite well at times.  Train all members to handle this method effectively -- it can work! (Stuono)

#2 - There should me more stringent disclosure of all conflict-of-interest issues with City Councilors, board members, and City personnel.  In addition, enhanced laws need to be on the books in regards to this area, as well as specifying exactly what is allowable. (Stuono)

#3 - There should be an independent City Ombudsman whose sole job would be to hear problems that the public is having with any City department, commission, officer, etc. This Ombudsman would have the authority to fully investigate any complaint, even to the point of requesting a special investigator, and to issue a public report on their findings. (Stuono)

#4 - No City employee should be allowed to use their office or authority to publicly campaign for or against any candidate for public office. (Stuono)

#5 - While it is good to "promote from within", top management positions should have open recruitment to get the best qualified candidate.  Should there be a reason not to do so, it must be decided by the Council after strong argument showing very highly qualified internal candidates (i.e., the Police Chief interviews), and the public should be permitted input. (Stuono)


#1 -  I see value in maintaining an Open Government Committee, meeting regularly, at least for the near future. If this is done, I would suggest that the City Council and Administration set up a process for appointing (or re-appointing) members of the Committee, with participation from each of the NPAs. Having an Open Government Committee continue would help ensure both that any public participation recommendations will more likely be implemented, and also allow for additional public input as other issues/concerns come up. (Senville)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 January 2010 01:56  


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