Promoting the notion that citizen participation is critical to the success of a government, as the City of Albany maintains on its website, an online citizens group has started a petition drive to convince the City Commission to televise its meetings.
The effort is spearheaded by the Facebook group Albany Voters for Good Leadership, which was initiated in July and as of Tuesday had 396 members. In a split vote with little discussion, the City Commission quit televising meetings in the early 2000s. Commission members supporting the measure said at the time that the intent of their decision was to minimize public embarrassment and political grandstanding.
Eighteen people had signed an online petition on Tuesday; hard copies of the petition, meanwhile, also are being circulated. Group members say that they intend to initially ask the Dougherty County Commission and Dougherty County Board of Education to televise their meetings. The County Commission meets in the same room as the City Commission; thus, it has the equipment to televise meetings.
The petition reads: “We, the undersigned residents of Albany, Georgia, by signing this petition, express our support for the televising of all City of Albany government meetings so the citizens of the Albany, Georgia will have full access to all open meetings. We believe this is essential to our citizens’ ability to be informed on all issues of local government.”
The city of Albany website states that “citizen participation is critical to the success of any government.”
“In Albany, the City encourages citizen participation by maintaining a Website and appointing boards and citizen advisory committees to make recommendations on various issues,” the website says. “Albany citizens also have a voice in local government by participating in public hearings on topics ranging from zoning matters to transit fares, and by attending in monthly town hall meetings held by city commissioners at the centrally located Albany-Dougherty Government Center. This sincere, open invitation is broadcast continually on Channel 16 and on the City website. The result is widespread participation in local government, which increases civic pride and confidence in public officials’ decision making.”
In spite of its public-participation advocacy claims, the City Commission, refuses to televise meetings in spite of being equipped to do so, and forbids citizens from speaking at meetings unless they sign up six days before meetings – long before meeting agendas are published.
Only City of Albany residents are allowed to sign the petition.
“Full access to legal and political information is essential for a health democratic society,” Laureen Kelly says on the online petition, which solicits participants’ comments.
“There needs to be more transparency in our local government,” stated Lailani Meadow.
WHO TO CONTACT: For information or to sign the petition, visit the Albany Voters for Good Leadership on Facebook. Non-Facebook users may contact The Albany Journal at firstname.lastname@example.org or 435-6222 for additional information.