February 12, 2017

Grains of Salt (v20): Full Consensus Transparency

In my last Grains of Salt post, (v19), I talked about a proposal from our Sonofa Gov, Andrew Cuomo, that would allow county executives to pretty much unilaterally move to consolidate governmental agencies in their jurisdictions, even going so far as to getting ballot initiatives in place this coming November.

And, I mentioned that we were still awaiting for a report from the Consensus CNY group, which had been tasked with coming up with a way to move towards 'government modernization' which is just another word for nothing left to lose. Oh wait, sorry -- that's freedom.

Government modernization is consolidation. It's not inherently a bad thing -- I want to be clear on that. Conceptually, I support reasonable consolidation, but at the same time I understand the not inconsiderable angst that even thinking about it can cause impacted residents, whether they live in the Syracuse, the city that would be absorbed? abolished? by the larger Onondaga County, or if they're suburban county residents who fear being saddled with the ills of the city, with no tangible (or even perceived) benefit.

Now that the report is here, we all have a lot of work to do, starting with reading it, and trying our best to understand what it means.  And, we then have to find out what other people think it means, and we have to find out what it will look like and feel like and what will our new home even be called? We all have our 'hometown' identities, whether it's Jordan or Fayetteville or Syracuse or The Valley... As I said, we have a lot of work to do, particularly if we want to avoid that unilateral county executive proposal thing.

I'm in the process of reading the report and getting my thoughts together. I know I promised I'd do that when we received the draft report (you can read other posts on Consensus here), but this time I'm committed to getting a handle on it now that we've got the real deal.

And as to making sure that I can learn what everyone else is thinking about? Well, today I sent the following email to all of our local televisions stations:
I’m writing to all of the Syracuse area television stations, asking that you work independently or collaboratively to ensure that all public meetings related to the Consensus report on consolidation are broadcast live, on air and online.
Now that we finally have the report, it’s critical that everyone in the city of Syracuse and Onondaga County has the opportunity to see and hear for themselves - from the Consensus team, local politicians, and other members of the community - what consolidation will mean and how it might work.
With Governor Cuomo’s planned legislation (introduced in his State of the State package) that will allow county executives to ‘go it alone’ and place consolidation initiatives on the ballot in November looming on the horizon, the Consensus report and the various community perspectives on it become even more important that they might have been otherwise – and there is greater urgency than before.
In addition to ensuring that scheduled meetings are carried live, I’d ask that you also please consider hosting sessions at SU, OCC, the Civic Center, and your own studios (similar to how you host candidate debates, for example) with panels of politicians and Consensus team members (together or separately), where questions from the community can answered by the experts. Allow questions to be submitted in advance, so that folks who can’t make it to a meeting still have a chance for their voice to be heard.
I appreciate your consideration of these and any other opportunities in which your station can participate, to help facilitate these critically important conversations over the coming weeks.
Thank you!
I'm hopeful they'll take these suggestions to heart, and do something similar, or better, using all of the creativity they can bring to bear. As always, I'll keep you posted on outcomes.

And if you're in my neck of the woods, I strongly encourage you to please do your part, too.  Click here to access the full report and learn more about what might be in store for us.