Transparency in government is a vital need to which I am committed. The near complete lack of reliable unbiased news media that covers Ypsilanti on a regular basis is a serious problem for our community.
I am personally committed to transparency. I hold public Office Hours monthly, and have done so since before I was officially sworn in as a council rep. These events are open to everyone, regardless of where they live, what they want to talk about, or who they are. I also have held regular Town Halls targeted to specific subject matters since I began holding office.
As Mayor, I will hold monthly public Office Hours. Additionally, I will hold 4 Town Halls per year, one in each Ward, and one at EMU. I want to be available to everyone.
Currently, residents are live streaming city council and other commission meetings on a volunteer basis. The level of consistent work by this group is commendable and many residents use this as a resource for information.
I am both impressed by their work and embarrassed that the city has not been streaming. I have already inserted equipment and software to provide live and high-quality streaming into the plans and discussion of our budget for next year. By having this service provided by the city, we can include better sound quality, possibly link to agendas and minutes, provide direct contact info and web links from presentations, and help make it easier for folks to stay informed.
I continually hear complaints that people do not know what is going on. There are several good reasons for that. Ypsilanti and the eastern side of Washtenaw county has low/negative news media attention. The job of journalism is to take in complex information, interpret it, provide context, and make it available in understandable formats. While we have one excellent public radio outlet (WEMU), print media is a missing piece of the puzzle, and privatized online media coverage is inadequate. People are very frustrated!
I am as well. Not only are folks unaware of what the city is working on, they don’t know what is going on in the city in general. What is new? What organization is having an anniversary? What are the pros and cons of a project being considered by the city or a business or a non profit? Few citizens know and it is because we need -- desperately -- a news source that is accessible to all.