Sunday, September 2, 2007

Questionnaires, and more Questionnaires

I've been spending hours filling out questionnaires for various groups and media outlets. The news media not only want you to answer the questions, but to do so in a limited number of words.

I am beginning to get good at it. It's also instructive because you can tell from the questions asked, what the author of the survey is concerned about. Favorite questions refer to impact fees, Tax Increment Financing (ie: North Hills East), growth, infrastructure needs, and the very popular: why are you running.

There are a couple of issues that have been mostly missing from the questions.

I been surprised and disappointed that only one of the questionnaires asked about the CACs at all and didn't mention the restructuring that the council is in the midst of considering. The CACs are the heart of citizen involvement in Raleigh. It's the only City organization that allows everyone living in an area to be involved in communicating with City leaders. Every other City board or organization is appointed by the Council. CACs are not perfect and there are problems to be addressed, but the people involved in the CACs should be a large part of addressing those problems.

Regionalism is the other issue that hasn't had much mention, either in the questionnaires or in the media. Even I hadn't noticed it was missing until the one question out of dozens showed up. I don't know whether we're doing so much better at regional planning that it is not an issue any more, or maybe people are hoping the dozens of municipalities in this area will work together if we leave alone long enough.

So I'm busily typing away, discussing what these groups want to discuss and sometimes being able to work in what I'm concerned about as well.

Then once in while I get to go out and talk to real voters.


dylanfan said...

What's a CAC?

Sister Linda (back from the beach and glad to see a new entry on the blog!)

helenleet said...

Good point....not everyone knows what Citizens Advisory Councils are--that has sort of been the point of a lot of the discussion. In many ares of the city, most people don't have clue they even exist.

Basically, back in the 1970's, city government divided the city into 18 different CAC districts mostly by how many people lived in that area. Apparently it was in response to some Federal mandate or another.

However in some areas like mine, the CACs have become a force for dealing with everything from crime to approving or disapproving of proposed new development. They usually meet once a month. There's a city department, Community Services that staffs them. That includes sending out newsletters that the CAC leaders help write and having a staff member at the meetings to take notes.

However, your question is exactly what the Council thinks it should decide. But to me, the CACs provide a way to organize public participation that is not limited to the whoever is in political power at the time.

BTW: Other readers, this is my real older sister-- not a religious adviser -- HT

Rob said...

Good point on is sorely missing from the discussion of issues. And as all the towns and cities of the Triangle region grow closer and closer, with borders crammed up against each other, I cannot see how it is not being addressed as much as it should be.