Can City Government be Win-Win for Citizens?

City Government needs Citizen Participation. As a City Commissioner and Mayor in the 1990ies, we discovered that communication to and from the Residents of the City was our biggest problem. We needed to go beyond ordinary legal notices and bridge the information gap.

A recent redevelopment project shows the same problem exists today. In working with the Planning Department and the neighborhood affected by the project, I asked what I could do to help. We decided to do what we could to tell citizens the ways they could inform themselves about what the City is trying to do. Since we have local Public Access TV running videos of the public meetings, I decided I could present this topic during the Public Forum at a City Commission meeting. I’m sure other communities have additional ways, even better ways, to help their residents know what is going on that might concern them. Please feel free to make suggestions in a comment or email me at subject line Public Communications.

Public Comment, Salina City Commission May 5, 2016

Can it be Win-Win? by Evelyn Maxwell

Permission to copy is granted.

Sometimes you hear, “It doesn’t do any good! It’s rigged from the start! You can’t make any difference.”

I’m here to say that we CAN make a difference. I’ve seen citizens make a difference.

But, to be really effective, we need

to be in the process from the beginning

and work for the general welfare ot the public.

We need a WIN-WIN solution to any problem.

None of us is perfect, none of us has the whole picture–we need broad participation in community decisions. The City and County “governments” are here to SERVE the public. And believe me, they really want to do that.

The major problem is communication. Interested groups and neighborhoods need an early
“heads up” to know “what’s up.”

I want Citizens to Know 5 things they can do:

1. Receive information of city boards and departments by using the internet at home or the library to sign up for email notices at

If you do not have internet access,

call the city manager’s office 785-309-5700

and ask to be on their mailing lists.

2. Contact any department. Most phone directories list them, also at

3. Have your voice heard on any matter before meetings by email or in the information packet to Commissioners. You can phone, email or write Mr. Dean Andrews, Director of Planning, preferably by Thursday before Commissions meet and it will be included in packets. But, packets may be very long. Some commissioners prefer having it earlier by email. You may also delivering it directly to their doors in person or by mail.

4. Request an appointment with city staff for information on what you can do and what is needed to successfully present your concerns and recommendations. If the concern is of broad interest, you should do that.

5. Read the same packet that commissioners receive at

Commissioners, Boards and City Staff

REALLY DO WANT to Hear from YOU.


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