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March 29, 2006 Meeting Notes for BIP #9: Public Involvement

Members Present:  Art Alexander, JoAnn Bowman, Laurel Butman, Sue Diciple, Christine Egan, Gay Greger, Tim Hall, Barbara Hart, Brian Hoop, Elizabeth Kennedy-Wong, Sandra LeFrancois, Anne O’Malley, Cameron Vaughan-Tyler, Karen Withrow.
Members Not Present: Eileen Argentina, Lynne Coward, Beth Kaye, Mary Jo Markle, Marsha Palmer, Rick Williams.
Staff:  Maija Spencer                Guests: John Ryan.
1.  Greetings/Introductions:  New members, Cameron & Anne, were welcomed. 
2.  Notes from February 22nd:  It was moved by Laurel & seconded by Cameron to vote to approve the notes.  It was unanimous to approve them as they stand.
3.  Public Comments:
  • John Ryan has completed his “Pre-filter specification” for public involvement and gave a draft copy to Jo Ann for review.  The vision of Mr.Ryan’s specification is entirely based on individual and community development and psychology.  He defines community governance in these terms.  There are three scopes to the pre-filter specification, but the governance and utility scope has the following six points:
  1. Project outputs
  2. Potential inputs and stimuli
  3. Community and individual psychology and evolutionary placement
  4. Project tracking (short term measures)
  5. Project tracking (long term cause and effect), cultural
  6. Tracking and evaluation (long term, system), the BIP procedures and system itself
There are a number of measures, examples, and questions under each heading.  The systems view is a different perspective of completeness applied to psychology, economics, cultural evolution, and livability.  John will be meeting with Jo Ann and Eileen to discuss this further.
  • It was asked by a public member if this tool would apply to citizen initiated projects.  The answer was yes, it would probably apply to all projects.
  • What are the pre-existing values of the area or community you’re going to affect?  It may not be obvious that there is a value to a place.  This may be captured in question one, but it should be considered how to incorporate this aspect. 
  • A representative from the Metro Committee on Citizen Involvement attended tonight, as their group is working on similar efforts. 
4.  Art’s Report on Bureau Advisory Committees:
In the late 1970’s/early 80’s, there was a desire for citizen input to provide advice to bureaus on their budgets and to City Council.  Some bureaus worked with their committees throughout the year and some just intensively during budget season.  A large BAC with representatives from every bureau committee was formed to make recommendations to Council.  Most of the members were appointed by Council members.   
Council became concerned that these committees essentially became advocates for the bureaus.  Some people served on committees for a long time and became very familiar with the budget process.   There was some tension, as citizens started to feel like Council asked for their opinion and then didn’t listen.  Minority reports were antagonistic at times towards bureaus.  Bureau directors felt like they spent a lot of time with the committee and questioned its relevance to the rest of the budget process.  As a result of these factors, by 1992, Council disbanded the use of these committees.  At this point, Council talked about doing a core process where council members focused on two or three bureaus’ budgets (almost zero based budgeting).  They felt like they didn’t need the bureau advisory committees with this process. 
Some bureaus still have advisory committees such as OMF and Water.  Other bureaus have done different processes working with the public (such as BHCD).  It’s just not a citywide institution at this point.  These types of committees possibly could be recommended as a tool. 
Brian and Laurel will give a report at next month’s meeting about neighborhood needs.  Art will also find if it was a council action that created the committees and will explain the distinction between bureau advisory & budget advisory committees.
5.  Review List of Questions for Level of Impact:
The team discussed the new set of questions distributed, that was based on February’s edits to the PDC’s list of questions. 
Possible Questions to Add or Edit:
  • The set of questions looked at tonight should be called “Levels of Involvement.”
  • Has there been a recent city project in the area that has organized the community?
  • Is the project part of something larger? 
  • Question #4: Add “or expect” (similar to #8)
  • Is geographic scope in here? Does that affect it? What about #2: could it relate to geographic? 
  • Question #11: Edit to read: To what extent does this project disproportionately affect a particular or underrepresented communities?
  • Keep #11 as a placeholder.  This speaks more to tools, but it is a question that needs to be asked at some point in the process.  It was agreed to hang on this issue and try to fit it into some point in the process. 
Other Discussion Points:
  • Who’s answering these questions and where they come from can affect how they are answered.
  • There may need to be a scale tool, but it should be a separate thing.  Accessing scale and resources should be separate. 
  • These questions need an intro paragraph or definitions.  There are still pieces missing, so maybe they will fill in the context. 
  • Issues such as geography, cost, number of people, and legal requirements should be taken into consideration when answering the questions.
  • Earlier on, we agreed by consensus to the principles of public involvement.  One of our tasks will be to go back to those principles and say we think this tool will be reflective of the principles.
Stakeholder Issues:
  • We are referring to the public the whole way through: are we talking about stakeholders or the general public?  Are we looking at short term or long term when answering these questions?  Does short or long term matter?
  • How are we developing the answers to these questions?  These questions should be answered with stakeholder involvement.  Perhaps we should ask “how was the stakeholder group was identified?” to at least get it in writing, rather than telling people how to do the identification.
  • Should stakeholder analysis happen first?  How do you decide the stakeholders?  For the most part, it is done well at the City.  Staff know they should do it, and there are a variety of partners that bureaus can call on for input. 
  • The PDC decided to put the full stakeholder analysis later in the process, so as to not create too much work for smaller projects.  They have suggested that at least 3 stakeholders groups are contacted in answering these questions. 
  • Advisory committees could be a place for staff to get quick input from stakeholders.  
  • The community would want more assurances that city staff would do due diligence.  People want the process documented.  How many stakeholders? Where’d you get them?  These are questions the public will ask.  Maybe this is part of the evaluation.
  • Each bureau should have some structure that reviews the last year or two’s activities – a stakeholder or advisory group could review projects and what was done such as mailings and evaluate that bureau’s public involvement work.
6.  Approve List of Questions:
The team unanimously approved the questions, with the following changes:
  • Question #4: Add “or expect”
  • Title the questions: “Levels of Involvement”
  • Question #11: Change to “disproportionately affects”
7.  Level of Participation & Activities for Each Level:
Christine reviewed the PDC spectrum that follows their questions.  The PDC chose to use numbers for their list of questions to hold staff accountable.  Sometimes staff have to re-evaluate the number system to ensure they end up at the right place on the spectrum.  Their spectrum is modeled after the IAP2 spectrum (IAP2 is a professional organization for public involvement practitioners).  The main difference is that IAP2’s spectrum has five levels (the fifth is empowerment), while the PDC’s has only four.  Steps #9 & 10 of the PDC handbook deal with evaluation.
The 5th level of IAP2 is “empower” which means placing final decision-making in the hands of the public– which is not within the power of city employees.  Council retains this power.  It was discussed how to incorporate this fifth level into a model for Portland.
  • Maybe the fifth level would apply to community-led efforts. 
  • Would ballot issues or mediation fit there?
  • Maybe there are 4 levels the staff person would want to work under. There is that 5th level out there, but maybe that’s in a different arena. 
  • We have the ability to create definitions.  Take out decision making but allow for project ownership or people bringing in ideas.
It was decided to take no action for tonight, and to come back to this spectrum at the next meeting.
Next Steps:  At the next meeting, the steering committee will bring a list of tools to add to the toolbox for the team’s evaluation.  Please send any lists of tools to Maija Spencer prior to the next team meeting (April 26th).