Who’s the committee? When is the next meeting?

Dennis asked a good question: who’s the committee and when does it meet?  I approved the comment about an hour ago but don’t see it showing up yet.

There are 3 members of the facilitating committee, Council Member Kathie deNobriga, Karen Bernheimer, and me (Elisabeth Shields).  Kathie and I made the original proposal to City Council which was presented at the Town Hall meeting on August 7 (2010).  Karen volunteered to help us get people involved after the Town Hall meeting.

Editing after publishing: I am using “committee” here with a small “c”.  We are a facilitating team, not an official committee.  City Council authorized this charter review using a community learning process model, which means that the role of the facilitators is to get as many people involved as have the willingness and commitment to do so.  We plan the events; will citizens want to get involved?  We will only know after the kick off meetings on Saturday, August 21 (10 am, Court House), and Thursday, August 26 (7:15 pm, Court House).   If so, then this becomes a citizen-led effort.

What we have done since the Town Hall was to tweak the proposal to Council , get out flyers for people not on the email lists (as proposed at the Town Hall), and set up this website.  I really set up the website, and I have done a good bit of preparation for the Kick-off meetings.

The next committee (facilitation team) meeting, such as it is, is tentatively planned for Friday August 20 at 1 pm in the Court House.  We will be planning the kick-off meetings, the first of which is being held the next day.  Anyone is welcome to come.  It’s tentative because Kathie has had to be out of town unexpectedly.

I heard from Kathie over night; we have moved the meeting to 3 at the Court House.  That is now tomorrow, Friday, August 20.

If you would like to join the facilitating committee, just let us know.

Material in italics added by Elisabeth on Thursday, August 18.

Elisabeth Shields
August 18, 2010


Report from Town Hall, 8/7/2010

This is the same report I posted earlier on the Yahoo discussion lists, minus the parts that don’t relate to the charter review.

For those who were unable to attend:

Very briefly & quickly, and not an official account. I was presenting and on my
feet most of the time, not taking notes. I hope anyone who was there will

On the charter review, the majority agreed that we should go ahead with the
process as presented. No one was in disagreement that I saw (show of hands to
indicate strength of support or opposition). A fair number of people have said
they will likely take on a role (we needed to know if enough people will be
interested in researching different options, getting out publicity, etc., but we
were not asking for specific commitments with one exception).

The schedule as published has a tight timeline, appropriate for issues that are
relatively easy to decide about and can be decided by home rule. More complex
issues could require more research and discussion (such as whether we want to
change to another form of government – city manager, city commission, weak mayor
– strong council, ceasing to be a city).

Karen Bernheimer has volunteered to join Kathie & me on the facilitation team.

Challenges identified:

*Dependent on people volunteering, otherwise it will be similar to more closed
commission process used by many cities.
*Have to do a lot more to let people who are not online know. PLAIN *Talk
supposed to be out soon but that’s hit or miss. We have a volunteer to deliver
a brochure to houses – WE NEED MORE FOR THIS.
*How to weave together physical meetings and online discussions? (We will
probably establish a separate discussion group just for Charter review. I have
been looking at alternatives to Yahoo over the last 24 hours, but we’ll probably
stick to Yahoo because most people are already familiar with it. Suggestions
*Some residents willing to work on this but need really good input from public
officials who know most about strengths and weaknesses of any of the charter –
many citizens don’t have that familiarity (I will be interviewing the rest of
council members and city officials before the kick-off meetings later this

Greg Z., Greg C., Bitsy & Kathie were there – the issues they have identified so
far are:

* current strong mayor – weak council system relies too much on mayor and
council members to become experts in government
* consider adding another check into admin system: should CFO report to COO?
*does charter really need to go into such detail on job descriptions of city
clerk and administrator?
* consider channging fiscal year to start 9/1, so it’s closer to when tax $ is
turned over by DeKalb County

Of course there was a lot more.

Elisabeth Shields
Originally written and posted in Yahoo Pine Lake discussion groups on 8/8/2010

Posted in Reports. 1 Comment »

Next Events – August

    Next events

    Kick-off meetings  (You only need to come to one)

    Saturday August 21 10AM, Court House
    Thursday August 26 7:15 PM  Court House

    At these meetings, we will :

  1. Again briefly review what we are doing and why (Goal: to ensure that our city charter (still) provides the best possible framework for the government of the City of Pine Lake)
  2. Hear about the last time the charter was reviewed thoroughly (10 min. with discussion)
  3. Hear in detail what public officials have identified as issues to examine; so far
    • Form of government: Is the strong mayor – weak council form of government still serving us well?
    • Administration: Does the charter go into the optimum level of detail about job descriptions?  As the nature of the work in the city changes, we might want more freedom to change what various employees do.  Right now, the charter is quite specific about some of that.
    • Fiscal year: Should we change the start of the fiscal year to start closer to the time when DeKalb delivers tax $ to us?
    • Removal process
    • Banning officials removed from office from ever serving again: should this be up to the voters?
    • I will interview council members and city employees in more depth so that I have more input and more detail, as requested at the Town Hall meeting on August 7.
  4. Hear from citizens about areas in which they feel they charter does not serve us well
  5. Identify the issues that this group of people feels are most important to investigate (remembering that there will be 2 groups meeting at different times)
  6. Give people a chance to express interest in serving in different roles – primarily on “discovery teams” about different issues
  7. This is a tentative agenda and details could change.

    You may of course come to both meetings – but please come to one!

    How to prepare

    If you can:

    (1) read the current Pine Lake charter:

    (2)  Browse the GMA 2007 Model Charter, which has lots of background information about different forms of government, for example: http://www.gmanet.com/Publications.aspx?CNID=19951 I have not been able to read this using Google Chrome – try Firefox or Internet Explorer

    If you can’t, come anyway.  The important thing is to get involved.

    Thanks, and hope to see you there,

    Elisabeth Shields
    August 16, 2010