Well, we have been beating the transparency drum for the last month in the media and on this website and for good reason. All issues that parents and voters have had boil down to transparency, which ever side of the debate you fall on. However one of our key issues is Trustee responsiveness to the citizens. So lets take a look at some of the ways they are not being responsive and how we think they can improve their representation of Calgarians.
A typical response via email or telephone might be “Thank you very much for your concern. The Board of Trustees is aware that Administration has prepared a report regarding your concern for a future public board meeting. However, the Board has not received this report yet. The Board of Trustees is under the understanding that we will receive this report for review, questions, discussion and debate at the next public board meeting.” In some cases the media has already reported on it and in the case of the transportation fees, we had the report posted on our website. Same answer. Hear no evil, see no evil.
So if this is the case and your Trustee is unaware of the issue that a member of the public has brought forward, would you not expect more from them? Would you not expect that they inform themselves and enquire with administration? Would you not expect them to have a basic understanding of most issues that may come up from time to time? Yet in person, or via e mail or telephone, statements like this get made. Then, by the time the report becomes public, there are 33 hours available for the public to have any impact on the decision. Less time if you wish to pose a question.
During a recent school program closure process, a parent group went to the media to explain their issues against closure. Administration claimed the parents were “jumping the gun” and nothing had been decided yet. Of course, through the entire process administration stuck to their guns and Trustees said that they hadn’t seen the report which would be presented at the meeting. “I’ve only heard what’s been in the media,” one Trustee said. If it were not for the media attention and strong community support, this program would now be closed. The only way to make your point is to “jump the gun.” Anticipate the next domino to fall and get out in front of it WELL BEFORE it is on the agenda. 33 hours will just not cut it to make change.
So next time you are speaking to or e-mailing a Trustee, and your answer resembles a line from Sergeant Schultz from Hogan’s Heroes, you might want to follow up by saying: “I expect more than that. I expect my Trustee to find out more about the issue. I expect you will follow up with more information and I expect you will get back to me with a deeper answer.”