For those of you who may be wondering why Concerned Citizens In Action has not been in the news lately, it’s because we are doing our job. And many of our local government officials are doing theirs.
We continue to attend most local city and port meetings, as well as occasional planning and local service agency meetings. We talk with the pubic who attend, listen to their concerns, and try to pass along this information to our elected officials. We also sit down and talk with those same officials, discussing our observations, providing input, and also listening to their plans, concerns, and visions.
We continue to research issues as they arise, and we continue to offer free public forums at least once per year. Our last forum was last spring and our guest speaker was the State Auditor Brian Sonntag. There were about 60 people who attended this event located in the Washburn Auditorium at Washougal High school. Many who attended were elected officials from around Clark County, as well as many citizens. Mr. Sonntag spoke for about an hour, and then took questions for another hour. All this after driving from Olympia (his wife accompanied him), and then driving back the same day. We were very grateful for his time and enjoyed his presentation, which was interspersed with humorous stories about our state politics. We plan to have another guest speaker forum in the spring of 2011.
We continue our support and membership with the Washington Coalition for Open Government. WCOG sponsored events are planned for this Spring in our area, with expert panels, including CCIA’s president as a panelist, providing Open Government information and education to the public.
We have come a long way since the RiverWalk incident. The outcome of this was that we now have a Port commission which emphasizes transparency and communication with the citizens of the Port district. The most recent accomplishment of updating and revamping the Port’s Comprehensive Plan was a milestone for our local governments; they took hours of public input, and utilized many ideas and concepts presented to them by their citizens. It was truly a collaborative effort.
The City of Camas appears to be doing a good job, with public comments at council workshops at both the beginning and end of meetings. People are invited to the table with the council and Mayor, and are able to voice their comments, questions, or concerns in a supportive manner.
The City of Washougal has YouTube Video of most Council meetings and workshops posted to the cities’ website. We appreciate this, since it gives those who are unable to attend a chance to see and hear these meetings, and keep informed.
CCIA continues to work with local government regarding public process. During 2010, the public had lost their ability to make public comments at the end of the Washougal council meetings and workshops. CCIA had worked hard to convince the previous council and mayor to provide these times in their meeting agendas. We were dismayed to see this current council shy away from having the open and productive dialogue that has become the norm at the Port meetings.
CCIA continued to request that this be reinstated, as did many citizens. We are glad to report these public comment times will now be returning, with two being provided during both workshops and council meetings. We hope that the City of Washougal will listen to the public comments and develop a collaborative approach to citizen involvement.
CCIA is excited to see the increase in local citizen participation at their local government meetings. More people have started attending, and on a regular basis. More people are taking the time to stand up and speak during public comment times. We hope it continues to grow. Our local governments work best when there is plenty of public involvement, and citizens pay attention.
CCIA welcomes those who wish to become members (membership information is on our website at www.concernedcitizensinaction.org). You can be more informed, and you can work with us to help monitor the workings of your local governments. CCIA intends to maintain its presence in the community, but this is a big job. We welcome those who join us as in continuing to observe, report, inform, and support the voices our citizens. We appreciate all the positive feedback, and thank those who continue to ask “How are you doing, CCIA?”
Martha Martin, Ph.D., is president of Concerned Citizens In Action. CCIA is a 501(c) 4 non-profit formed in 2007 and has a nine-member board of directors.