If you have been reading cincyopolis for awhile, you know I like to measure things. So when I was getting ready for the Cincyopolis Survived! party to mark the end of the first year, I started a list of good things that have happened during this grand experiment in civic conversation: 138 posts, 1277 regular followers, 555 “likes” on the Facebook page, a Sunday cover story in the Enquirer about the use of economic development incentives in Cincinnati, City Council’s call for a full-review of incentives, 3 guest editorials in the Enquirer, 8 guest posts from an amazing range of expertise, interviews with some of Cincinnati’s most visible leaders, and a requirement for public hearings added to new Tax Increment Financing projects voted on last December.
But in order to improve results, evaluation also has to include a clear-eyed look at failures as well, those areas where improvement or reassessment of technique is most needed. There’s only one area where efforts have been particularly disappointing, the spot where I’ve put by far the most emphasis: transparency at the Port Authority. Instead of improving interaction with this public agency, the relationship between the board and citizens has actually gotten worse over the past year. (well – maybe not worse – as there was no relationship prior to the formation of cincyopolis – but it sure hasn’t gotten any better)
Two of the four board meetings (at the Taft Center) since we started attending in February were cancelled. The executive director has twice fallen back on legality as justification for decisions to limit public access to information. Meetings we do attend start with a reminder that the public is not allowed to comment at any time. And silliest of all – during the strategic planning session last month, we were told we were not allowed to sit at the observation table – even though it remained empty through-out the entire meeting – and were relegated to chairs scrunched along the wall in the far corner of the spacious room.
This should not be an adversarial situation. The Port Authority is now and always has been a public agency subject to state Sunshine laws. This is the public’s business and we have every right to be there, listening, learning and asking questions.
Please come if you can. It’s the last meeting before summer break and very important to remind the 9 members of the board and the executive director that we care, that we are not going away, and that we want to be an informed part of these important decisions that impact our community for generations and involve big dollars and risk.
Though regularly scheduled for the 2nd Wednesday of the month, this month’s meeting has been moved to Thursday morning, June 11 at 8 a.m., at the Taft Center on the 2nd floor of the atrium in the Westin Hotel on 5th St.
Failure is only absolute when we stop trying.
Note: I just remembered another no-progress area: I haven’t gotten Dusty Rhodes to give any serious consideration to inconsistencies in property valuations. I haven’t given up there either.