Communication & Transparency

How the city engages with residents is an area where I see a lot of opportunity for improvement. It seems like many things are still using outdated and now inadequate processes and methods. For one example, just recently I read an announcement in the White Bear Press of a neighborhood meeting regarding Briarwood Avenue that I would have been interested in attending - except it had occurred the day before the paper was delivered. Meanwhile, regular meeting notices and materials for City Council and advisory commission meetings leave a lot to be desired. The council and planning commission ones are scanned-in images rather than normal documents, which means they are not indexed by search engines, difficult to navigate, and inaccessible to people with vision impairments. The parks and environmental commissions only publish the agenda, and none of the supporting documents, while the finance commission doesn't even publish the dates of their meetings online. All of those should be improved.

Besides just improving the content on the web site, we need more active ways of notifying residents that such content exists. Most people are not going to check the site every day to see if anything interesting was posted - that's just not reasonable. We should make it possible for interested residents to subscribe to e-mail notifications for various subject areas, like meeting notices, construction project updates, and community events.

There is still certainly a place for our regular print media, and it is important to keep the quality there. The White Bear Press does a good job of covering meetings and events after the fact, as well as serving as the paper for legal notices. Additionally, the city newsletter is well-read, and I recently learned the frequency of publication would be increased to every other month, which is great. That allows more in-depth looks at some of the interesting things going on in the city, and regular delivery of informational items that aren't timely "news", but useful to know. We just need to also use digital media alongside those for things that are more time-sensitive, as well as records that should always have convenient access.