Edmonds City Councilmember D.J. Wilson is inviting citizens to attend a public meeting tonight — Thursday — to examine ways the city could improve its financial situation. Here is a Q&A with the councilmember on what he hopes to accomplish:
Q: You’re hosting a meeting Thursday night on the financial situation at the city and to talk about ways of changing the way the city does business. What do you have planned?
A: The core group of participants on Thursday will be the folks who took part in the 2009 Levy Review Committee. Those 65 people spent 12 intensive hours looking at all facets of what we do as a city, and they came up with a couple of recommendations: focus on economic development and pass a levy. This meeting will bring that group up to speed on what we’ve done in the intervening 20 months since we met, will update folks on our current fiscal situation, and then will lay out some options for changing the way we provide services in the city.
Q: You’re using the concept of “Government 2.0” as an element of your meeting tomorrow. Can you explain what that means?
A: Government 2.0 is the idea that people expect their government to behave differently than governments did even just a decade or two ago. That cultural change is brought on by things like the Internet, mail in ballots (which drive up voter participation) and host of other things. Add to that the economic down turn, the Eyman initiatives which force citizens to raise taxes for services by vote at the ballot, and the rise of special taxing districts for services (like the TBD, Sno-Isle Library system or the Fire District), and you have significant shifts taking place in how government is allowed – and expected to operate. Government 2.0 is a model of government that works effectively in this new paradigm, and it is fundamentally different from earlier models of government.
Q: Your agenda has an array of invited speakers, including Councilmember Buckshnis, who has been critical of your hosting a meeting like this while she’s leading a separate levy effort. Does this meeting conflict with her work?
A: No. In fact, I think she’s asking a lot of good questions as part of her process, and I think this is a good opportunity for her to share some of their findings. The bottom line for any of us is that whatever we come up with has to get at least four votes from council, and it has to get approved by the voters. So, I want to include as many folks who want to participate as possible – including my council colleagues. Some of these participants may not think much of me personally, but that’s fine. They’re here because they want to help the city. And, for us to move the city to a stable financial footing, it’s going to take a wide range of us working together for the common good – regardless of political party, regardless of whether we like each other or any of that. This should be about our community, not personalities.
Q: What do you hope to achieve tomorrow night in just one meeting?
A: Well, the value of this group is that they have been through a lot of education already. They know the basic details of the city. So we don’t have to spend a ton of time there. The goal of the meeting is to bring to the group some of the ideas for structurally changing the way we provide services and see what they think. This is a smart group, so my guess is they will have more questions but I know they will be there because they want what’s best for the community. And, if there are some answers there that float to the top, they’ll let us know.