Pam Broviak

I have tried many times to analyze this disconnect because it is the root of so much frustration on both sides and impedes our ability as local govt employees to deliver services in a cost effective and efficient manner. Almost every day I ask how can we better inform citizens.

Therefore, it is very interesting to me to see most of the discussion about this topic focused on video taping public meetings since, from my perspective, the meeting is usually only a very small representation of the entire issue and actions surrounding the matter. More importantly, there are significant and underlying reasons and regulations that determine how govt makes decisions and how we function. And this information cannot easily be conveyed in one meeting or in one brochure.

Over the years, I have found many resources where a city govt can get ideas and samples for brochures and handouts. There are even now good examples of You Tube videos out there that are non-meeting related. But even if we use these communication tools, people still find themselves frustrated. I believe this is because the whole problem with communication between govt and citizens goes much deeper than trying to reach out on one issue.

From years of experiencing this problem, my opinion is that we will only stop this cycle of distrust and perception of misinformation when we increase civic education in our schools. And an added benefit of a knowledgeable citizenry is that it increases the ability of elected officials to govern and communicate. I also believe we could make progress if we launched some civic education units online, and this is something I have been working on developing as an experiment. The bottom line is getting online video access to meetings is very important but that is the easy part. The huge hole we have in our education system regarding civic education is the harder problem to solve and few seem willing to even talk about it.