Council eyes ‘off-site’ meetingsPublished 3:49pm Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Washington’s City Council wants more information before deciding whether to conduct some council meetings at places other than City Hall on a somewhat regular basis.
Council member William Pitt put the issue before the council at its meeting Monday at City Hall, also known as the Municipal Building. Pitt believes conducting such meetings would be a step toward enhancing open government. Such meetings would be less intimidating than formal council meetings at City Hall and give the public and elected officials better one-on-one time, Pitt said. Pitt also suggested city officials consider not dressing as formally for the “off-site” meetings. Except on rare occasions, the mayor, council members and top city officials usually wear suits or sports coats and ties to council meetings.
The Washington Civic Center and community centers at some public housing complexes could be sites where council meetings could be conducted, according to city officials.
“We’d be able to visit those areas and get that population involved (with city government) as well,” Pitt said of the community centers.
Mayor Archie Jennings and Councilman Richard Brooks said they have no problem with conducting some council meetings at other locations in the city, but they would prefer to wear business attire rather than dress less formally.
“I, personally, like the (council) chambers myself, but I’ll do whatever the council says,” said Councilman Edward Moultrie Jr., who also said he prefers to wear business attire at council meetings.
Brooks said he likes the idea of “off-site” meetings providing more open government and allowing elected officials and the public to get to know one another better.
“I think when people meet you one on one in their surroundings, sometimes they open up more,” Brooks said.
City Manager Josh Kay said he would survey facilities in the city that would meet the requirements (space needs and audio-visual equipment) to be able to host a council meeting, then provide the council with a list of facilities that meet those requirements and schedule for “off-site” meetings.
“I think this is just another way to bring our city to the public and to bring government to the public on a level they would feel more comfortable speaking to us away from this venue (City Hall),” Pitt said.Theresa