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Pete Benavage (user 386) - Comments by Date

p. 18: "Project can move on...when the majority is satisfied..." Majority of what? There needs to be some definite deadline on participation as a voting member in groups that require votes. Otherwise, factions pack the meetings at the last minute and obstruct progress. I have seen this happen.

p. 27: "Stakeholders' Groups" should be specifically mentioned and included.

p. 34: Though mentioned later, NEWSPAPERS and LIBRARIES should be included.

p. 46: Again, please do not overlook LIBRARIES.

p. 51: In the side note, "Democratic" should be "democratic"; capital "D" implies the Democratic Party, while lower case "d" refers to the participation of people in governmental decisions.

p. 52: Mention should be made of free translation software. I have in fact used it to produce Spanish language flyers, and it really does work.

p. 52: Getting "permission to post flyers in condos" -- good luck. Condominium rules are a major stumbling block to communications with residents, and a very large segment of Alexandria lives in condos. Unless it is electronic media or mail, it is exceedingly difficult to post materials in condos, and in fact, any multi-family residential area with strong association regulations. This is a real problem for local political candidates as well, and actually is becoming a very major issue.

p. 53: With respect to translators at meetings, a real caveat needs to be added that such translation services must not impede the general audience's ability to hear or see the proceedings. Some translators have actually interfered with members on the dais conducting a meeting, and have frequently been so loud in there translating efforts that members of the audience could not hear the ongoing debate. There should be a protocol to allow for proper translation without it interfering with the overwhelming majority of the participants/audience.

A-12: This should be noted specifically as a BLANK FORM (for people who are easily confused, like me).

Resource Listings: The Beauregard Corridor Stakeholders' Group should be listed as an example of community outreach and input. This was a major success in Alexandria, and we should build on lessons learned from that process.

In general: This is a well written and thought out handbook. My compliments to the staff, and the participants. The only danger is that the public must understand that while their inputs are important, and most definitely should be considered seriously, our elected officials are in office to use their own judgment to GOVERN, and therefore citizen input is not necessarily final -- except in elections.

Pete Benavage (386) | User | October 11, 2013 - 11:46 AM | Civic Engagement Handbook Comment Board