How to comment

1.  How to make your first comment

This site is public, but only residents of Pine Lake can comment.  To ensure this, everyone’s first comment must be approved by a moderator, and right now, that’s just Elisabeth Shields (aka plcharterreview).  So let’s try this:

  • Click on the “comment” link and follow the instructions.  I will be alerted that a comment needs my approval.
  • If you are pretty sure I will recognize your email address, that’s all you have to do.
  • If you think I might not recognize your email address, send me a separate email with your name and address.  I will never publish this anywhere, just use it to limit approved commenters to Pine Lake residents.  You only have to do this the first time you want to comment. It’s set up so that the system will recognize you as authorized after your first post is approved.  Email me at elisabethshields@ymail.com, an account I use just for charter review.

If you feel that you would only comment if you could do so anonymously, please email me privately (elisabethshields@ymail.com).  I would like to gauge how much participation we would lose by not having such a feature.  I will keep everyone’s identity private, but if there are enough people who feel this way, I will post on the topic.


2.  Other moderation

This forum will try to provide the kind of environment that encourages the broadest number of people to offer their opinions.  So here’s what I propose.  I have talked to other members of the facilitation team and members of the community, but final responsibility for the proposal is mine.

In this setting, as in a public meeting, rules will support order and decorum and restrain disruptive speech.  Comments containing disruptive statement, defined as “statements containing personal attacks, profanity, commercial advertising or content that is entirely off-topic” will be removed; the posters will be notified and they will require approval before further posts can appear.  (The inspiration for this policy is Peak Democracy, an organization that runs forums for a number of cities, including Decatur.  Peak Democracy is cited as a model here by permission from their CEO.)  You may not post material from private communications, such as email, from other people without their permission; it’s a violation of their privacy.  It’s up to them whether they want to comment here.

You may certainly disagree with material that appears here, including opinions of other commenters.  Please do not call people names, disparage the way they write unless you are trying to clarify a point, or generally make people feel that they will be punished if you don’t like what they have to say.

This website is one of several settings in which you can discuss the charter review process.  The main way to get involved is to come to the meetings.  You can call the Mayor and City Council members, email or write to them privately, and participate in any of the three Yahoo Groups on Pine Lake:  pinelakegeorgia, PineLakeGA, and pinelakechat.

Examples:

OK:  With all due respect to [person X],  I don’t understand her qualifications for this job and I think it would have been more democratic to have appointed a committee rather than handing this over to one person.

Lew, I can’t follow the logic in your statement.  I think you contradict your first sentence when you say [ . . . ].  I disagree completely with your statement that we don’t need any removal process.  Imagine what would happen if . . .

I think this process has gotten off on completely the wrong track.  Instead of doing [X], we could . . .

Not OK:   Well, Debbie, only an idiot who dropped out of school after fifth grade could fail to follow my logic.  Anyone who uses “too” when it should have been “to” . . .  (personal attack, not on topic)

Discussion of the wetlands project, economic development, etc., unless supporting points in the charter review.

7 Responses to “How to comment”

  1. Dennis Rotch Says:

    Elizabeth,

    I see that the Resolution to review the charter began on July 27. Since you and Kathie made the original proposal, what changes did the two of you have in mind when you made this proposal? The ‘Charter review resolution’ does not establish a Charter review Committee. Why is there no formal Committee established?

    Dennis

    • plcharterreview Says:

      Dennis,

      I’ll address the last first. I don’t know if I will successfully answer your question as I am not sure what kind of information you want, whether you want my thinking process, which I can give you, or whether you want Council to account for its actions, on which point I cannot satisfy you.

      I was asked to make a proposal to get a charter review process started. I could have said, talk about it at a Town Hall; ask for volunteers to form a committee; see if you can twist the arms of enough other people to form a committee. Etc.

      In committees, the actors are known up front. They are selected from a set of people who can be convinced to undertake an onerous task and they quite likely know that they will be given a lot of grief over it, one way and another. They adhere to the formal rules of democracy, holding open meetings, publishing minimal minutes, and coming to conclusions which are presented to public meetings. The people who come to listen don’t want to stay very long, learn a little about the subject at hand, and action is taken.

      I have suggested that we experiment with a more open learning process in which we invite a broader group of citizens in to educate themselves more deeply about the rules of governance, aka the charter, learn about how the city operates, consider whether the current charter serves us well, find better ways where needed, and come back to discuss this with each other. People who would not have volunteered for the committee may be able to contribute their time and creativity so that the city benefits from more perspectives and more wisdom than it could get through the efforts of a committee of, say, five to seven, with a few public meetings.

      This is where a learning process gets scary. We don’t know now what the outcome will be. There might be issues that will require a more formal process such as a committee or commission structure, and such a recommendation can be taken to council. There might be substantial agreement about some changes that council could act on quickly.

      We won’t know until we look at it. The way I see it, City Council has given us an opportunity to take a look at our governance structure as a community. Maybe not enough people will want to do that; the next week will tell. If not, we’re back to the more traditional committee or commission.

      I hope this makes some sense. It’s taking a long time to write what is easy to talk about. I hope you will be at one of the kick-off meetings.

      You have floated the idea of a committee but have not said what concerns you. You posted the idea as a criticism on a discussion list before either the Town Hall meeting or the City Council meeting. I turned the idea into a suggestion, since neither discussion and no decisions had yet taken place. I raised it at the Town Hall, but since I didn’t know why you wanted to see a committee particularly, I couldn’t really be an advocate for the idea.

      What changes did I have in mind or do I have in mind? One of the tasks I had was to interview staff and council members to find the “points of pain”. As I get more information, I think that the timetable is a really fast-track timetable – we’ve already said that. We will hold the meetings as stated, but we may add more beyond those dates.

      Back to the committee question – why not establish a facilitating or organizing committee that would be appointed? Because it’s not clear to me that if we did that, all the groups looking into different issues wouldn’t constitute sub-committees which would have to hold public meetings with due notice and minutes every time they met to discuss an action plan or look at what they had found. If 3 people agree to look into alternatives for a removal process over a 3-week period, that’s really too onerous, in my opinion.

      Elisabeth

      • Dennis Rotch Says:

        Elisabeth
        My previous post, consisted of two simple questions; here are the questions again:

        “I see that the Resolution to review the charter began on July 27. Since you and Kathie made the original proposal, what changes did the two of you have in mind when you made this proposal? The ‘Charter review resolution’ does not establish a Charter review Committee. Why is there no formal Committee established?”

        Your voluminous response, as far as I was able to determine, did not answer the first question.

        The committee process is the well recognized way that citizens have access to the decision making process. You seem to be trying to reinvent the “government wheel”. The process that you favor, soliciting volunteers, opens the door to conflict of interest and self interest. A properly functioning committee system would consist of a pool of citizens from which committees would be formed by random selection and appointment. An example of a ‘citizen pool’ would be those who are registered to vote.

        Dennis

  2. Dennis Rotch Says:

    I read this on the web site, Elisabeth wrote:
    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.

    I have been to the Court house twice at 3:PM and 3:15PM. No one is there. Has this meeting been canceled?

  3. Compendium Says:

    I’ve worked with Compendium off and on for a few years, most recently in an analyst position with the state of Georgia.

    I’m doing a seminar (FREE) on 2SEP10 at Colony Square. And I’d love to work with you on using Compendium. I live in East Atlanta.

    See the seminar information here: http://www.marnellgroup.com


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