Re: “Public consultations no alternative to leadership,” Jan. 25.
Chamber of Commerce CEO Bruce Carter is concerned that elected officials are relying too heavily on the views of those who attend public consultation sessions to guide their thinking and justify their decisions.
If he’s referring to the city’s current “budget conversation” sessions, he needn’t worry. First, because fewer than 25 Victorians have attended the first two sessions. Secondly, because the city’s “budget conversation background materials” are marketing pieces, specifically designed to lead consultation participants to a favourable opinion of elected officials and support of their 10 cost-reduction strategies. Following these public relations sessions, the city will then proceed with most or all of its pre-public consultation determined strategies and make the claim they are doing so on the basis of wide public consultation and support.
The city’s 2012 Civic Engagement Strategy commits to providing citizens “with the information they need to participate in the decision-making process in a meaningful way” and promises that the information will be “balanced.” The exclusive use of positive comparative examples in the budget conversation background materials makes them biased and violates the city’s promise of balanced information to enable citizens to have a meaningful voice.
So the fundamental issue is not “public consultations no alternative to leadership,” but public relations no alternative to public consultation and the promised meaningful participation in the budget decision-making process.
© Copyright 2013