Coffee a good idea

Published 1:02 pm Thursday, February 23, 2012

City council members made a good decision this week in planning a pair of Coffee With the Council events which will give community members an opportunity to offer opinions and ask questions about city government in a casual environment.

One of the great challenges that every elected official faces is getting honest input from constituents. Very few city residents are comfortable saying what they think in front of the full council in the intimidating council chambers environment, so the council tends to get minimal input during its meetings. And the phone calls that most elected officials get come only from constituents who feel very, very strongly about some issue or another. In short, creating a more casual and comfortable environment should help council members better represent their constituents.

It should be noted that asking for input is not easy to do, because some of that input will almost certainly be challenging or downright critical. So it’s a credit to the council — and particularly to council members Janet Anderson and Marion Clennon, who are leading the way — that it is going forward with this effort.

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The first Coffee With the Council will 9-10 a.m., Saturday, March 10, at Gymocha. The second will be 9-10 a.m. on Saturday, April 14, at Coffee House on Main. We hope there’s a good turnout. We hope, also, that even if there is not a big response to the first two events the council is willing to continue them; it takes a while for new ideas to catch on.

Regardless of whether it catches on quickly or slowly, Coffee With the Council is a great idea.