Northfield’s advisory boards: Will their communications to the Council promote citizen engagement?

City of Northfield
Northfield Patch: Northfield City Council Votes to Remove Liaisons from Advisory Boards

Councilors Patrick Ganey and Suzie Nakasian, new to the council in 2011, last week advocated for a policy change that would change the relationship between the council and its boards and commissions. On Tuesday, the council approved the policy 5-1. Councilor Rhonda Pownell dissented. Councilor Kris Vohs was absent.

Councilors no longer will act as liaisons for the city’s many boards and commissions. Instead, it’s now the responsibility of advisory boards to report directly to the council.

The board will revisit the policy in May to review its success. The objectives of the policy, according to its language, are to establish a direct and efficient channel of communication; use time effectively; and promote open discussion and transparent policy.

That last line makes me hopeful that the strategies used to communicate with the Council make it more likely that citizen engagement opportunities are increased.


  1. Griff, it wasn’t part of the the packet. Copies of the policy were available at the meeting. In the story you linked, I typed out much of the proposal.

    January 19, 2011
  2. Jane McWilliams said:

    Griff – Because that document and one from the city attorney’s firm were neither in the paciket nor on line, I was moved to make a statement at the meeting that though their operating procedures which the council discussed last week provide for all materials for a subsequent meeting to be in the administrator’s office by Wednesday and distributed to the council on Thursday, last night these two critical documents appeared publicly, at least, at the meeting only. I’m kind of a nerd when it comes to having adequate information before making important decisions on the public’s behalf. However, I’d have to admit, the council seemed to have had time to review and understand the contents of these to late-comers. The new non-liaison plan is a big change, and it will be interesting to see how well it works. As for the EDA, the council has stopped talking about putting it on hold or eliminating it. It will be important to follow the next two work sessions to see how the council reconciles differing optinions as to how the EDA should operate.

    January 19, 2011

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