City of Coral Gables: Try Communicating with the Citizens

See below recommendations of good communication practices by the National League of Cities (NLC) to improve commuication and understanding between the city government and the citizenry.
One may conclude that very few (or none) of these suggestions have been considered or practiced by the city government of Coral Gables, except in those few instance required by law such as boards, budget hearings and selected items on the Commission’s agendas.
For example, the recent Impasse Hearing between the city and the general employees was not transmitted on TV locally.
A NLC document recommends the following steps to communicate effectively with the community.
  • Seek input from your citizens on (a) their needs/wants; (b) their evaluation of services; (c) their views on how services can be improved; and (d) priorities for goals and objectives.
  • Use focus groups to obtain input from citizens on what results should be tracked by the government.
  • Provide outcome information to citizens in forums, meetings, newsletters, media interviews, and web-sites.
  • Offer periodic briefings on local government accomplishments to neighborhood and other citizen groups.
  • Provide to citizens outcome information likely to be of greatest interest to them, such as breakouts of outcomes by neighborhoods.
  • Provide annual reports to citizens, neighborhood associations, and other community groups that highlight the results achieved.
  • When the government reports to its citizens or media, require that the information provided includes the bad with the good – but also includes explanations and plans to correct the problems.
  • Work with the media to encourage their use and proper understanding of results-based information.

About Stephen E. McGaughey
International consultant in economic development programs and projects

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