Terrance Ruth: A Breath of Fresh Air

Terrance Ruth: A Breath of Fresh Air

In a recent interview with mayoral candidate Terrance Ruth, the Indy’s Jane Porter began by asking why he is running. His answer was plain and to the point: “because I have seen the slow dissolving of public trust in our city.”

Mickey Fearn has a lot to say about trust too. He is the consultant currently under contract to improve community engagement in Raleigh. In the course of his research, he has twice reported to Council that there is a pervasive lack of trust between citizens and Council. In both instances Fearn advised that restoring trust with Raleigh citizens is the key to creating an authentic and effective community engagement system. At last week’s Council presentation, Fearn’s message about trust seemed to once again fall on disinterested ears.

It has been almost a year since Council’s shocking dissolution of the Citizens Advisory Councils, and Raleigh residents still have few avenues for community engagement. One of the last remaining opportunities to discuss community issues is to sign up for a 2 to 3 minute slot to virtually address Council at one of their regular meetings.

Unlike the respectful treatment afforded commenters by previous mayors, the current mayor peppers public commenters with snips and sneers, and routinely cuts them off. Meanwhile, the rest of Council seems unwilling to call for an atmosphere of respect. Over time, Council’s collective behavior has created an environment where disrespect for citizens has become normalized, undercutting the public’s trust in Council’s ability to act with civility and professionalism.

Respect, humility, empathy and trust are qualities rarely seen in politics these days, but they are very much on the mind of Terrance Ruth. While his Indy interview responses are varied and thought provoking, his fundamental theme throughout is the need for Council leadership based on trust. No matter what challenges are ahead for Raleigh, the task of becoming an inclusive, equitable and prosperous city begins, in the words of the mayoral candidate, “by restoring, rebuilding and reuniting Raleigh”. Terrance Ruth is the right person for the job.

Watch Terrance’s Announcement Video

Campaign website Truth For Raleigh

Facebook Truth For Raleigh

Twitter @TruthForRaleigh

Instagram @TruthForRaleigh

Lack of Progress and Accountability in Raleigh’s Community Engagement Project

Lack of Progress and Accountability in Raleigh’s Community Engagement Project

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?

(next slide please)

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. 

(next slide please)

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.

Community engagement: where are we after 3 months?

Community engagement: where are we after 3 months?

On Tuesday, September 15th I spoke with the City Council about Mr. Mickey Fearn’s community engagement presentation from September 8th. I watched Mickey’s presentation to City Council that day, and then watched it again several more times during the following week. Why so many times? Because my initial reaction was, “Where are the specific details about Raleigh? Does the City Council have any benchmarks for progress?” There were many things Mickey said that gave me some hope about this process, but I didn’t see them documented. His presentation marked the beginning of his contract’s 4th month. We tax-payers deserve accountability and transparency of Mr. Fearn’s $72,000, 10-month contract. Some serious money is being spent on this process, and the City Council needs to take it seriously.

Below are my presentation slides and text. My remarks are immediately below each respective slide. You can click on each slide image in order to see a PDF in a separate pop-up window. Thanks for being interested in our city’s community engagement. — Mike Lindsay

Hi Mayor Baldwin and City Council members. Thank you for this opportunity to speak with you. I want to talk about Mr. Fearn’s community engagement presentation to City Council last Tuesday. My focus will be on accountability and transparency. As my chart indicates, we are now into the 4th 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? (next slide please)

Here’s something from Mickey’s presentation that gives some of us hope. He has met with a variety of people and groups who play a significant role in Raleigh’s public life. While the mix is good to know, what’s missing are the details. I know of several meetings with Mr. Fearn, only because I attended them; one was with the RCAC leadership, and the other was with a community organization called Livable Raleigh. I can happily tell you that Mickey spent well over two hours with us. That is something worth knowing. Just like it would be good to have a public record of all Mr. Fearn’s meetings. Since last Tuesday, I’ve talked with Ulysses Lane (the South East CAC president), Donna Bailey (the Hillsborough-Wade CAC president), and Christina Jones (the RCAC president). All three have met with Mr. Fearn. Christina gave Mickey contact information for all the CACs, and knows he has met with the Midtown CAC and the Mordecai CAC, but isn’t sure about any others. Shouldn’t the City have a web page devoted to community engagement that regularly updates Mickey Fearn’s progress and meetings? Also, that page should have links to the website that Mr. Fearn’s daughter is working on. Having information easily available to the public will help rebuild trust in this City Council. (next slide please)

As you can see at the top, “trust” is something we heard loud and clear during Mr. Fearn’s presentation. In fact there were many things he said that got our attention, but didn’t show up in his slides. I call your attention to the green bubble in the middle. Mickey talked about a 2004 citizen involvement report and said it was a masterpiece. It wasn’t listed in his slides, but do you recall him talking about it? Do you know about the report? (next slide please)

Please take a look at the report’s seven recommendations for strengthening citizen engagement in Raleigh. Has anyone on the current council read this report? Did those who voted to abolish City support of CACs ever read it? Mickey Fearn apparently thinks it’s worth reading. How many times has Raleigh spent money on a consultant’s report, only to ignore the recommendations? I have no idea, but we need to get it right this time. (next slide please)

In the spirit of accountability and transparency, I hope this Council will take the following three actions: (1) Public reports at all stages of Mr. Fearn’s contract with details, not generalities, (2) monthly reports made public, if he is submitting them to City Council, and (3) the website we’ve been promised, along with a public engagement page on the City’s website that allows all of us to be informed of progress and to participate.

Thank you for listening and taking action!