Editorial: A positive brew at council retreat

Published 5:48 am Monday, February 25, 2013

Daily Herald editorial

Some good ideas came from the Austin City Council’s annual retreat last week, most notably the decision to restart the city’s Coffee with the Council outreach program. We look forward to seeing the council follow through with that plan.

In a city growing as quickly and with as much diversity as Austin, it is a difficult job for any individual to keep track of all the issues government has to deal with. Council members have the further challenge of conducting their official operations in an intimidating meeting room, one where those who want to provide input must speak to council members who are on a raised dais, must use a microphone and whose comments will be televised and reported in the media. This, as one might expect, tends to limit resident input.

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Coffee with the Council, as it was originally envisioned, was designed to overcome those problems and to increase resident input to the council on an informal basis. The original Coffees were summarily canceled because some council members didn’t like the way they were going. We’re glad the current council is willing to begin the process anew. We hope this fresh start includes the realization that, as with any new thing, some tinkering with procedures, rules, times and methods is going to be necessary to get the process right. In other words, some patience will be required.

Coffee with the Council was an excellent mechanism for city leaders to gather input they might not otherwise receive. It can again be a real asset to city government, provided the council is willing to make it so.