Public involvement vs.
public relations

There are a lot of public meetings to gather citizen input. How do you know if officials are really listening?


... only 25 minutes of a 2-hour meeting are devoted to public comment

... the drawings look perfect

... the public involvement process begins after key decisions have been made

... presenters have answers for everything, including why your idea won't work

... the presenter says "we'll get back to you," then doesn't

... you feel like you're at a pep rally

... a steering group's meetings are not open to the press

... a steering group is composed of like-minded individuals/interests

... almost everyone in the room looks pretty much the same

... you start feeling the presenter is really the expert and you're unqualified to speak

... you see the info for the first time at the meeting where decisions are requested

... you get notice of a meeting three days before the meeting

... final decisions are made before public meetings are held

... pivotal interim decisions are made before public meetings are held

... decision days are set for two days after the public meeting

... technical information is offered only in technical language or formats

... you can't get your hands on technical reports or back-up documents

... you can't find out the underlying assumptions

... meetings are scheduled during business hours in small or private rooms

... the only presentations are slide shows, overheads and power point

... there are no take-home handouts providing more detail

... there's no significant budget left for the consultants to make revisions

... the presenter assures you that there's plenty of room for "tweaking"

... you've just encountered Public Relations, not Public Involvement, and it's time to insist on the real thing.

Genevieve Ray



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Cuyahoga Bioregion
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