Viewers of Oak Harbor’s cable Channel 10 were pleasantly surprised last week to see the first televised meeting of a City Council workshop session.
The previous city council discussed taking that action for months, but never voted to go ahead with it. It appears that new Mayor Jim Slowik took it upon himself to get it done as quickly as possible after he took office. The workshop took place prior to the regular City Council meeting so the logistics of televising it were simplified, but it was an outstanding effort.
Viewers were treated to a very informative presentation by Rhonda Haines, utility services coordinator, on the city’s water efficiency goals. It included a history of the efficiency standards, background on where our water comes from and the infrastructure used to deliver it, and how the city intends to promote improved water conservation in the future. Haines was well prepared for the meeting and the visual aids she brought along, including a water meter and the various types of water pipes used in the city, were very helpful to the viewer.
The presentation was, in short, exactly what supporters of the idea to televise workshop sessions expected: An in-depth look at an issue in a relaxed atmosphere, not so hurried and technical as a formal City Council meeting. The public gets to learn right along with City Council members. And while council members do not vote in workshop meetings, the issues ultimately come up for a vote in a regular session. Now, viewers will know the background of these votes that sometime seem too routine to those who don’t realize how much time has been devoted to them in workshop sessions.
Mayor Slowik asked citizens to provide some feedback to the first televised workshop session. It does cost some extra money to televise workshops, and he wants to know that the public finds it useful. The answer has to be “yes, keep them coming,” from anyone who took the time to watch the broadcast. It’s not too late. The meetings are shown several times a day on Channel 10.
And give the new mayor credit for taking some decisive action in his first days in office. If it’s a harbinger of the future, Oak Harbor will be rolling up its sleeves and getting things done in the next few years.