Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Help King County Fix Its Budget

by Matt Rosenberg October 7th, 2010

In late 2007, after more than 80,000 signatures were collected on petitions for the Easy Citizen Involvement Initiative (I-24), the King County Council approved a privately-funded engagement program called Countywide Community Forums (CCF). The big idea was that while large public hearings are useful and necessary, there are other important – and more collaborative – ways to harvest public sentiment for the benefit of public officials and all of us. Right now, through Oct. 23, CCF is conducting it’s sixth public outreach campaign and the topic this time around is how King County should deal with its near- and long-term budget problems. Here’s our Seattle Times op-ed last week, on the topic and why participation matters. There’s a $60 million deficit for 2011 and a continuing imbalance between costs and revenues. To join and schedule or attend a forum, or to take the online survey, go to our Web site. The events page gives an idea of what’s been going on and where. Some forums are public, such as Oct. 14 at Freedom Church in West Seattle or Oct. 16 at Douglas Truth library in Seattle, and you’re welcome to attend. Another public forum was earlier this week at the Central Area Chamber of Commerce. Forty people attended – from all over Seattle and King County – enjoyed some Dick’s burgers and shakes (The Spady Family of Dick’s Drive-Ins is the main funder of the program) and participated in a lively conversation before completing their surveys.

Consider organizing your own forum, with your neighbors. Make it a potluck. You watch an informative video, talk about the topic, then take a survey. We provide all the materials and a stamped envelope to send the surveys back to the county auditor’s office, which tabulates the results into a final report for the county, the public and the media. We’ll also come to workplaces, organization meetings and high school or college classes to run a public or private forum. We’ve been running forums with classes at Seattle Pacific University, University of Washington, Seattle University and Bellevue College; at senior care facilities and elsewhere. Feel free to contact me directly at oudist (at) comcast (dot) net.

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