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City Launches 'Open Town Hall' On Web

New feature allows citizens to weigh in on various issues from the privacy and comfort of home. Will you use it?

The city has launched a new service that is supposed to let citizens weigh in on various civic matters, using the Internet as a sort of electronic megaphone.

It's called Open Town Hall, and it launched earlier this week with an invitation for people to weigh in on three design options for new signs throughout town. But the electronic town hall system, if it turns out to be successful, could be another way for John and Jane Q. Public to make their voices heard, instead of speaking from a podium at a city council meeting.

"This is a new, convenient way for people to share their ideas and opinions with Walnut Creek leaders," said the city's communications and outreach manager, Gayle Vassar.

The system was developed by Peak Democracy, which is, according to Vassar, a non-partisan organization that specializes in on line government forums. The sites are moderated, creating forums that are, according to the company's web site, "civil, legal and cost effective."

The first forum the city is presenting is the Way Finding system presently being studied. It consists of sign designs and styles that would be employed throughout the city to help people find their way around. An open house was held on these designs last month, and the forum is open to further input from the public through 5 p.m. today (Jan. 4).

One more time with feeling January 06, 2013 at 12:42 AM
Walnut Creek voters were asked about funding the downtown library. We told our leaders twice not to do it by not approving the bonds. It was built in spite of this with majority of the project $ coming from the General Fund. While laying off 30+ employees, gutting the Police Department & deferring maintenance we were force-fed a $43 million project staffed by county employees. This sign project & solicitation of feedback from the public is up there with the library & Pools projects. We provide feedback - they do whatever they want. This provides the *impression* that the 3rd floor actually cares. They have proven repeatedly they do not care at all. *Someone* from the 3rd floor saw the Contra Costa Centre signs & decided Walnut Creek had to have them or someone's working on their advanced degree (thesis topic) or someone needed a project on their resume. I was downtown recently. *EVERYONE* knew where they were going or they asked or they used their cell phone map app. So the signs are for _____? One of the *new* Contra Costa Centre signs directs the reader to the Embassy Suites. One can SEE the Embassy Suites building (and the huge red letters at the top) while reading the sign. It occurred to me that properties change names. Which entity pays for updating a sign when something changes? Anyone know how much we're planning to over-pay for this unnecessary project? We don't have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem.
Joe January 06, 2013 at 02:08 AM
It actually seems that the city representatives are asking for your feedback, knowing full well that you don't care for all past decisions that were made. Both positions seem pretty reasonable and easy to understand. What's a bit odd is that you feel it's more appropriate to respond to "THE CITY" in the Patch, rather than on it's website.
michael frederick January 06, 2013 at 10:23 AM
Allow me to help, Joe. I pushed for Community Conversations. The results were that Parking and Traffic were residents' top two concerns. With a stiff arm Frank Gore would be proud of, this city continues promoting congestion as Job #1 -- via ABAG as building excuse, rebranding, etc. Library "listening" was effectively limited to staff tracking hours listened -- for the political validation to blow the public off. As in this case, the public was told of the decision to spend $50M but, we'd like everyone to "participate" on the decorations... City Hall reps condemn those who mention it, NOT the nauseating practice. "Participation" is not the "Meaningful Participation" it seeks to disguise itself as. We see the same synical process with Bob Simmons and the West Downtown SP. Public participation is encouraged. Translating it (filtering) will be BRE, Chamber of Commerce, DBA, Hall Equities, and others whose ONLY interests are personal and financial. Briefly, the city web site is set up to count "participants" and advertise the numbers, to suggest meaningful participation. Also, the city website specifically mentions filtering. Communicating on Patch isn't "odd", it's FREE speech. What is the point to participating on a city funded website, even as we witness Simmons' massive fraudulent filtering? There is nothing "odd" about discussing public issues on Patch -- MINUS city censorship. It's "odd" you'd join Patch to suggest such.

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