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June 28, 2006 Meeting Notes for BIP #9: Public Involvement

BIP #9 : Public Involvement Meeting Notes
June 28, 2006
1.  Greetings/Introductions:
Members Present:  Jo Ann Bowman, Kelly Ball (for Marsha Palmer), Laurel Butman, Megan Callahan, Gay Greger, Tim Hall, Barbara Hart, Brian Hoop, Elizabeth Kennedy-Wong, Sandra LeFrancois, Karen Withrow.
Members Not Present:  Art Alexander, Eileen Argentina, Lynne Coward, Sue Diciple, Christine Egan, Brian Hockaday, Beth Kaye, Cameron Vaughan-Tyler, Rick Williams.
Guests:  Jonah Willbach, Michelle Walch.                                Staff:  Maija Spencer
2.  Public Comments:  There were none at this time.
3.  Notes from April 26th and May 31st:
Laurel made a motion and Karen seconded to approve notes as presented.  All approved, except for Gay and Barbara who abstained as they were not present for the meetings. 
4.  Update on Work Plan through August
  • The plan for this group is to report back to the Bureau Implementation Team in August and conclude the process with a draft report by September. 
  • Jo Ann and Eileen have met with Commissioner Adams and Leonard to have them review our work and ask about pilot projects for our products.  Commissioner Leonard is interested in piloting our tools in the Water Bureau, and Commissioner Adams is also interested in using these tools for a public process about arts and culture funding that he is beginning soon. 
  • Eileen and Jo Ann went to visionPDX’s engagement subcommittee meeting and are working to schedule a meeting on July 13th at lunch time for a focus group from this subcommittee to review our documents and provide feedbacks.  Any BIP #9 team members are invited to attend as well. 
  • At next month’s meeting, the team can discuss the list of parking lot issues and begin to determine what items we can deal with and what items should go into our final report as next steps.
5.  Matching Tools to Level of Involvement
It was asked if it had been decided to go with a numerical scoring system for the Levels of Involvement questions.  Some present liked the idea of a scoring system, as there is a natural tendency to want it to be quantitative, but others did not as a number system seems too rigid. 
Discussion of numbering system included:
  • Instead of numbering system, ask city staff to describe how and which stakeholders they met with to answer questions.  This should be the expectation. We can focus on developing the process to be used – such how many stakeholders should be consulted, etc.
  • Answering the questions will still not necessarily guide you towards the spectrum.  If you don’t use the numbers, you will just be eyeballing it. 
  • Maybe you look at low, medium, high – find the average.  It doesn’t have to match up exactly with spectrum. 
  • Some of the questions might be weighed differently.
  • Perhaps pilot projects could test it with and without the numbers.
It was agreed to move on, and come back to this topic.
Other discussion included:
  • It was noted that it seems like the list of questions is missing “What are the external factors around a project?”  It should include questions like “What is the operating environment or policy? Are there any federal mandates or other factors that determine the need for this project?”  Maybe these types of questions would come first – before the set of questions.  These questions assume there is a need for some public involvement.  Sometimes there are constraints on decision-making (example of not being to allow off-leash in wetlands). 
  • Prior to answering the questions, there should be an opportunity for city staff to specify what requirements they must follow and how.  For example, the Big Pipe project is required, but there could be discussions about how to do it.  Or the staff person could name what policy places limitations on the outcome.  Is it a city council priority?  Has it been budgeted for?  What’s the history?  This could include an environmental scan or situational analysis. 
  • This tool should be a guide – not a hard set rule, but don’t say it is voluntary.  The goal is to make standards that are consistent.  By keeping it simple, we will get more buy-in.   Leave some room for interpretation and discussion, as some projects are very complex and don’t have an easy strategy.  Pilot projects can show the tool works and may even make city staff’s jobs easier.
  • The public should know about these tools – putting them online and at ONI adds transparency and accountability.
  • How do you institutionalize this?  What were the pitfalls for Metro? 
  • When we come out of this process, we will still have a list of things for the next committee to work on (evaluation, etc) that will go on both sides of our product.
5.  Matching Tools to Levels of Involvement
Notes were taken by Jo Ann on easel paper, which will be folded into our final product.  The group discussed the IAP2 public participation spectrum and how the categories of tools fit with the spectrum.  The group decided which tool groups (from the handout “Public Involvement Tools, by Category”) fit each level of involvement, and this will be folded into the spectrum in a handout for next month’s meeting. 
Discussion included:
  • We should define the big categories – Ex: “Information is used primarily for ….”
  • For tools, we should identify the level of efficiency and effectiveness: number of people you reach with each, for example.
  • Need to define the public’s role from the beginning to the end.
  • It was suggested to link to a website with definitions of tools to make our final document smaller. 
  • How do we make the process flexible enough that the public can ask to change the process?  (Is this a parking lot issue?)  Maybe a check in place can be built in, either later on, or in the evaluation process. 
  • Are we going with the definitions of IAP2 for inform, etc?  Yes, except for empower which is still on the list.  It was suggested to replace empower with “decide.” 
  • It was agreed upon to add to the spectrum the community’s role, phrased as: the community learns, contributes, participates, partners, and decides.
  • This spectrum talks about public participation but doesn’t address it.  Should it be called “Level of Public Involvement” instead of “Level of Public Impact”?  Should it be “hears” instead of “learns”? 
  • The group decided the categories of tools would match up to the following categories: Inform (Tool Categories # 1, 2, 3 & 4); Consult (3, 5, 6 & 7); Involve (5, 6, 7 (&8?)); and Empower/Decide (#8).   These will be folded into the spectrum handout for next month.
6.  Public Comments:
Jonah noted that he likes the term “empowers” and seeing everyone recognizing what is meant by that.  He mentioned that the Dudley St. Neighborhood Initiative in Boston could be an example of empower.  It was a collaborative community-driven, low-income neighborhood re-development, in which the city government gave up the power of eminent domain.