Tim Niles is a founding member of Livable Raleigh and has been a resident of Raleigh for over 30 years.

Tim delivered the following comments to the Community Engagement Board Retreat on August 26, 2023:

I’m Tim Niles and I want to thank you for hearing from me today.

I’m here representing myself. Not CACs and not Livable Raleigh.

Three and a half years ago City Council defunded CACs with a promise to build something better.

Despite your efforts, nothing has been built.

When I spoke to you in February I noted CACs provided one place a resident could go each month in their geographic location for two-way communication with the city.

I also noted it is NOT better to require residents to seek out and travel across the city to multiple single topic, departmental meetings on an irregular schedule to stay informed.

These types of siloed meetings are fine if they are IN ADDITION to monthly, neighborhood meetings.

But, the monthly neighborhood meetings MUST BE YOUR PRIORITY.

Where residents know they can show up to stay informed about Planning, Budgeting, Development, Parks & Rec, Police & Fire, Bond Initiatives, Transit and even hear from their council representatives.

A friend of mine said this just this week:

“I always knew I could attend my CAC meetings. But, I have not heard a peep from the Community Engagement Department, as a citizen, as to how I could engage with the city.”

I have seen the Engagement Department’s proposal for an Engagement Network. It is very ambitious, very bureaucratic and UNFUNDED.

My suggestion is to start smaller with the monthly, geographic, full-service meetings, be they existing CACs or other new groups that want to provide the same type of full-service two-way communication. Start smaller and build from there.

I understand you need vetting criteria to avoid the concern over lawsuits from groups who may also want free access to space.

Here are defining criteria:

1. Open to ALL without discrimination.

2. Provide two-way communication between residents & the city on a full range of topics.

3. Represent a specific geographic area so the data brought to the group from the city is applicable to the area.

4. The group should be provided with meeting space at the Community Center that serves the group’s geographic area.

The benefit of these criteria is in providing residents one regular group meeting located in a convenient Community Center where attendees can hear ALL the data they need to stay informed of their city government and city services instead of being expected to search out information from different departmental “silos” requiring attendance at multiple meetings, at various locations across the city, on an irregular cycle or waiting for an engagement bus to come to them.

This council will NOT act without a recommendation from you.

Please, make this your recommendation!

Thank You

NOTE – At the Tuesday September 5, 2023 City Council meeting Mayor Baldwin expressed concern that the city is doing a lot, but people don’t know about it. She said, part of what we want to achieve is informing people. It’s quite ironic since it was Mayor Baldwin and Councilor Melton who led the charge to defund the CACs and shut down the city’s 50 year method for doing just that – informing people. You can hear her express her concerns over now needing to fix what she and Melton tore down 3 1/2 years ago and have yet to replace with the new, better process they promised at the time.

Listen here: City Council Meeting

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