StarTribune: Key City Council decisions often made away from the spotlight

The StarTribune had an interesting article today about city council work sessions.

One of the first things I learned when I started to pay attention to city government was that all of the “real” discussions tend to happen at the work sessions. Work sessions are typically held before or after a council meeting, or on a day there is no meeting, and are not held in the council chambers.

They are open to the public, but are rarely attended. If you do attend, you aren’t usually allowed to speak (it’s time for the council to have discussions among themselves) but you are entitled to see any of the documents that are being discussed.

Some councils encourage citizens to attend, some are openly hostile to the idea of public oversight. The latter need to be replaced by the former.

In Crystal, the council began to audio record the work sessions last year and posting the recordings on the city’s website. This was a change pushed by Jim Adams Crystal Mayor, and something we will continue to do going forward.

As part of the Citizen’s Connection Initiative in Crystal we will be actively encouraging the public to attend work sessions.

Getting involved in your city government can sometimes seem a bit daunting, but if you have questions about attending a work session either in Crystal or in your city, let me know!

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