City Expands Transparency Efforts
It was my goal when I ran for Mayor to make city government more transparent and open to the public we serve. We started immediately after my inauguration by continuing the new practice of streaming City Council meetings online through the city website.
Sometimes a crisis has a way of moving forward technology in unexpected, positive ways.
When the pandemic caused all but essential operations to shut down, we were easily able to transition to streaming City Council meetings and other board meetings to the City website and eventually to social media. This simple act has resulted in thousands of people viewing City Council and other board meetings since January.
We also used technology to increase the history of meeting minutes available online to the public by utilizing a feature in the eCode site the city had already subscribed to and embedded access to those minutes into the city website.
To expand our digital reach, we launched new official social media pages for City Government on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. These pages give us a fast way to get important news out to the community as well as new avenues for all of our departments to share what they do every day.
Technology has its limits though and Zoom rooms, with streaming and sound issues, aren’t always conducive for encouraging the discussions needed for City Council meetings.
Because of this, I devised with my staff a report system to explain resolutions and actions appearing on the agenda. This was to make it clear not only what exactly is being proposed but why the actions were important and necessary. The reports also showed the fiscal impact of each resolution on the City and taxpayers. We include the reports in the agendas sent to City Council members as well as posting them online before City Council work sessions. The reports benefit both the media and public as they take sometimes stilted government legalese and make it understandable for everyone.
I’ve already heard from many that these reports make the process more clear, transparent, and accessible. As my administration continues to lead the city, my staff and I hope to roll out even more measures that focus on transparency and accountability. We want citizens and the media to hold us accountable and hope the addition of these tools make it so.
For anyone interested in accessing these new features, our city website is www.jamestownny.gov. You can also join us on social media through www.facebook/CityOfJamestownNY, www.twitter.com/jtnycity, and www.instagram/jtnycity.