On Tuesday, January 5th I spoke to the City Council about the progress of the City’s community engagement project. Below are my comments. — Michael Lindsay
Hi Mayor Baldwin and City Council members. Thank you for this opportunity to speak with you. I hope all of you had a good holiday season.
This evening, I want to talk about Mr. Fearn’s community engagement project. My focus will be on accountability and transparency. As my chart indicates, today, January 5th 2021, we are into the 8th month of Mickey Fearn’s $72,000, 10-month contract. How do we citizens know what progress has been made, and how can we be sure our money is being well spent?
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Here are two screen-grabs I made on New Year’s Day; one from the City’s website page titled “Raleigh Seeks to Revolutionize Community Engagement” and one from Mr. Fearn’s website. In both images we see that the last published report on the progress of Mr. Fearn’s community engagement project is September 25th. The previous two reports had “bi-weekly” in their titles. The last report didn’t use that phrase. Are there other bi-weekly reports since September 25? Are there any monthly reports that have not been made public? We are now well over 3 months since the last public report.
Also, the City website has a link to Mr. Fearn’s website, and says to visit his site for additional details. Well, there are no additional details on his site. It is the exact same information as on the City website. Raleigh residents were promised back in the summer of 2020 that as a part of Mr. Fearn’s community engagement project we would have a website where we could go participate in this process. We still don’t have it.
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So where are we now? According to the contract between the City and Mr. Fearn, by the end of January (which is month 8 in my chart) we are to have designed new community engagement functions and implemented them. They should based on bringing citizens in as co-creators (Task 4 from Phase 1) and synthesis of data and lessons learned from the inventory, discovery and research (Task 5 from Phase 1).
Early on in this community engagement project, I participated in several Zoom meetings with Mr. Fearn. Also, I networked with many other residents who are actively involved. After Christmas, I starting asking around about what, if any, progress has been made since the last published report on September 25th. I have found little evidence that we have moved beyond Tasks 1, 2 and 3 of Phase 1. Task 4 may have been started, but hasn’t gone very far.
As of today, over 70% of the time and money associated with this effort to “revolutionize community engagement” has been spent. Have goals been met? Has the money been well spent? The residents of Raleigh have no idea since we’ve been kept in the dark for over 3 months.
Thank you for listening.
Please click on the below image to see all 3 pages of presentation.