OPEN GOVERNMENT - VICTORY

Posted on 07/12/2008

Sept 25th, 2008
City Council and the adminstration agreed to a series of changes to City Council procedures to make our actions more open generally and in particular
in economic development actions.

All additions and deletes from the City Council agenda will be posted on the City website through the end of the day prior to the City Council meeting. This will apply to all items. The background material will also be available.

The economic incentives approval process will include the above plus it will not be on the "consent" agenda. It will be on the regular agenda and a report will be given to Council prior to voting. This combination will prevent tax breaks being given to companies, in exchange for job creation, without it being an open process.

City Council approved a request of mine to direct city staff to draft a change in the city's TV ordinance to allow us to televise candidate debates in
city elections. This will allow thousands of people to see candidates directly respond to our concerns. As CONA President, I had requested this change prior to the 2007 city elections without success.

A considerable amount of press has occurred in recent days about how the City approved tax incentives to keep and attract business. I have a proposal
before City Council on 7/17, requesting a Council workshop to review the competing needs to attract business and have open government. I hope to convince council members to provide a more open process and not allow these
items to be approved on the "consent agenda" where the subject is not even
announced at the meeting.

CITY ELECTION DEBATES ON THE CITY TV STATION. This is another open government
proposal of Councilmember Nurse. Many cities use their TV station to allow
the League of Women Voters to organize debates which they televise. This allows thousands of voters to directly see their choices in local elections.
This comes before a city council committee on Thursday.

VICTORY FOR TV DEBATES - The city council committee voted to direct the staff to draft an ordinance to provide for one televised debate in the primary and
one in the general election for the 2009 city elections. Thanks to members
Jeff Danner, Leslie Curran and Jim Kennedy for standing up for democracy! -
July 24th,2008

OPEN GOVERNMENT FOR CITY COUNCIL COMMITTEES - Councilmember Nurse requested this week that the agendas for city council committees be posted on the city
website along with the city council meeting agendas. Most proposals go to a
committee first and currently it is very difficult for a citizen to learn the
status of proposals until it reaches the full city council. This brings another part of city government into the open.

OPEN Government Workshop set for Sept 18th. Staff will present the process for the City to follow the state law when providing tax incentives to keep and attract good jobs to St. Petersburg. We will also consider how to make this process more transparent. This can include: tax incentives not on the
consent agenda, putting adds and deletes on the web site (staff has agreed to
this change), limiting last minute additions to the agenda or at least prohibiting putting them on the consent agenda.

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