I attended the OPPD's Board Committee meeting this morning and was pleased to learn more about the district's financial state for the year, how things are progressing at Fort Calhoun, and several other matters of importance.
Director Anne McGuire sparked a discussion about shifting around the Tuesday morning Committee meeting and the Thursday morning Board meeting so that they both occur on the same day. I was really intrigued by the conversation.
On the bright side, Director Tom Barrett clearly articulated his desire for regular Board meetings to be held in the evenings. I agree. For years many of our public entities (OPPD is not alone here) have held their public meetings in the middle of a work day when it's very difficult for most people to leave work to attend. While he did a good job of making his case, the rest of the Board wasn't interested in going beyond the one evening meeting they hold each year.
After a long discussion (it was pleasing to hear a good, rigorous debate on this topic) the Board appeared to agree that they would conduct a 3-month pilot wherein Committee meetings would be held at 9am Thursday, and Board meetings at noon on Thursday. The rationale being 1) it would be easier for the public to attend one day of meetings rather than two, and 2) holding the Board meeting over the lunch hour would give more people an opportunity to attend (or watch) over their lunch break.
It was a good and important step in the right direction. The Board seems to be genuinely interested in expanding opportunities for more people to attend, which is great to hear.
Were it a meeting wherein public comment was welcome, I would have offered two main suggestions:
- It is vitally important to do a better job of communicating the changes to meeting schedules. It's not enough to post an announcement in the Daily Record or on OPPD's website. The district should explore other ways to push information to its customer owners, rather than asking customer owners to pull information in.
- Pilots are intended to test out new ways of doing things so as to determine what the right permanent course of action should be. How will the Board measure the effectiveness of the pilot so as to make a determination as to meeting schedules going forward?
I've previously written about making OPPD's public meetings more accessible, and I'm happy to see the Board taking meaningful strides forward on this front. I hope that we can continue to push for greater openness, accessibility and transparency - it's the right direction for all of us.