14 thoughts on “Saint Paul’s Public Engagement Tweak is a Small Step Toward Equity and Democracy

  1. John Maddening

    I actually hadn’t heard about the “you don’t have to give your last name” bit — that part does feel troublesome to me. But yeah, stating your name and neighborhood should be sufficient to comment.

  2. Melody

    thanks for writing this, Bill! very important angle for urban planners and advocates to consider.

  3. Bill LindekeBill Lindeke Post author

    Another thing I didn’t mention here: there is zero follow-through on verifying addresses, so it’s not like there’s any safeguards in place. I suppose reporters or others could “check up” on the addresses people give, but that seems a bit of a terrible public process nudge to me, especially when these public meetings sometimes get so heated and personal.

  4. Mark Thieroff

    The concern about possible retaliation against individuals who speak up on land use issues is already recognized in the Data Practices Act. Under that act, the identity of any individual who makes a complaint to a government entity about the “use of real property” in violation of state law or city ordinance is confidential and cannot be obtained through a data request. (Minn. Stat. s. 13.44, subd. 1.) Interesting that with respect to existing land uses a citizen can speak up confidentiality, while in regard to proposed land uses cities require not only the individual’s name but address as well. Seems hard to reconcile that difference in approach.

    1. Bill LindekeBill Lindeke Post author

      I spoke about this to the City Attorney and he told me that we need to make sure we are complying with data practices law, but hadn’t looked up what that precisely entailed.

  5. Scott Walters

    I think I agree with John. Name and neighborhood ought to be okay, but full name, please. Your comment at City Hall is somewhat analogous to a legal document, for which you are accountable. To that end, I’m also changing my personal streets.mn policy as well. I used to be one of two somewhat anonymous Scotts commenting here.

  6. David MarkleDavid Markle

    It could be a problem if those advocating a position in the public arena, let alone to a public body or authority, remain anonymous. We’ve seen the extreme case already, with Russian meddling in elections.

  7. Karen

    The city of St. Paul supposedly uses neighborhood community councils to get feedback from neighborhoods. Those councils seem to vary greatly in how well they represent all of their neighborhoods.

    Open hearings at City Hall probably not best way to get pulse of whole community. I’ts a lot of work and intimidating for many – Certainly the hearings are a needed part of the process, but if city really wants to know what people think, seems best to go to people, present ideas, get feedback.

    I know many of the district councils do assessments, surveys, get out on foot engage people in various places.

    1. Bill LindekeBill Lindeke Post author

      Some do, not all. In weighing district council opinions, I’m generally interested in seeing how those assessments fit or don’t fit their neighborhood demographics.

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