Communication & Transparency

I was meaning to write this post last month after the city council meeting on April 16th, but between leaving for Kansas City later that week and end-of-semester projects at work I haven’t really had a chance to sit down and do it. I was rather disappointed by some of the posts on Facebook ahead of that meeting, namely those by city council members including one questioning “why people were posting about a topic on Facebook instead of coming to the council meeting.” For starters, the post in question started out specifically saying to go to the upcoming council meeting on the 16th. Second, people are going to talk things the mayor & council do because they can wherever and whenever they wish, be it on Facebook or at the cafe, whether you like it or not. Second, you complain about people “spreading rumors” yet you insisted people had to come to the council meeting, where you read a canned statement that could have been posted online days earlier instead of leaving things open to speculation over an entire weekend.

I still question if the claims about the mayor were truly a rumor, since two years ago I was at a meeting in Boone and was asked afterwards by an attendee (who lives clear across the county from me) “if I had met Madrid’s new Public Safety Director”. I responded “No, we don’t have a public safety director, we have a new Fire Chief..” He then proceeded to tell me about what then-Mayor Ringgenberg had told him. No mention of the city creating this position had been made in the Madrid paper. Why am I finding out things that the mayor & council are doing from somebody on the other side of Boone County before it ever comes up in a council meeting?

Council members also talk about residents not having information, yet make no effort to make information available to residents. Council meeting agendas aren’t posted to the city’s website until hours before the meeting, or in some cases after the meeting is over. The council meetings are held at 5:30 PM, which while convenient for the council who have maybe 5 minute commutes from their workplaces, not so much for residents who work in Des Moines and are still working or in their cars at 5:30. Woodward has their council meetings at 7:00, as do Granger and Ogden. Slater has their meetings at 7:30.  Polk City and Boone have their council meetings at 6:00, both of which also their meetings and post them on YouTube. Most of them also include more information in their minutes than Madrid’s, then again so does about every other city in the state.  I checked the city’s website on April 15th for the council agenda for the meeting the following night, nothing. Meanwhile I downloaded the entire public council packet for West Des Moines (who, along with Des Moines, broadcast their meetings on a city cable TV channel and stream it live on their websites.)

It’s 2018, time for the mayor & council to catch up with the rest of the world.





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