News from Patrick Flynn

Choice dialogues

On Tuesday the mayor and several of his senior staff presented an idea for re-shaping our approach to the 2011 budget.  Cheryl Frasca, our OMB Director, learned about an organization called Viewpoint Learning and felt they could effectively:

“Engage Anchorage residents in talking about spending and revenue choices that will serve as input into the Mayor and Assembly’s decision-making.”

You’ll be forgiven, of course, if your reaction is something along the lines of, “isn’t that what we elect you to do?”  And you’re right.  That said, we who are immersed in budget writing often hear from a fairly limited population that roughly breaks down into two camps:

  • Those who want taxes cut, without regard to the consequences, and
  • Those who want spending, generally for a specific program or two, maintained or increased.

In other words, the conversation could be more robust.

If you visit their web site you’ll see that the folks at Viewpoint Learning have developed some impressive methods for engaging communities in conversations about their priorities.  Part of their efficacy is presenting information in an objective manner (e.g. your friendly neighborhood politician is not the source) and part in their selection of panelists (some selected at random from voter rolls, some chosen to represent various community demographics).

I mentioned the idea to several of my Assembly colleagues and their reaction is similar to mine; as long as we don’t presuppose to know the outcome and are willing to really listen to the directives offered by the reports the process will generate, this seems a worthy endeavor.  It looks like the administration will start moving forward on the project next month with the panels to convene in July and/or August.  Hopefully the ideas they produce can be incorporated into the mayor’s budget proposal this fall and the Assembly can keep those ideas in mind as we author a final version.

With that, as always, I’m interested in your thoughts on this process so let’s hear it!



P.S.  Here’s hoping you and yours enjoy this holiday weekend when we honor those who’ve sacrificed on behalf of our country.

This contribution was made on Friday, 28. May 2010 at 13:21 and was published under the category Fiscal matters. You can follow comments on this entry through the RSS-Feed.

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  1. This sounds like a great idea, Patrick. I hope you and your colleagues support it.

    Comment: Caroline M. – 28. May 2010 @ 2:37 pm

  2. Pat:

    Even if the outcome isn’t all that we could hope, getting a real dialogue started is never a bad thing. The tough part, as you noted, is getting people to listen. I hope it works out. We can certainly use some listening on both sides in this community. Thanks.

    Comment: Steve – 28. May 2010 @ 4:41 pm

  3. Patrick, your approach to communicating with the public at all levels is outstanding. However, it seems to me the trouble is the chiefs, you among several are not looking at the base of the city, the people. There is more time being spent on the situation with the homeless than is warrantied! The people are in poverty that could be avoided!

    Between the City of Anchorage and the State of Alaska the offices of the governments are simply not paying attention to the problems of the people in the unions and the workers who need the rules enforced. The people of the government are not doing the job they are hired to do and the management of those offices are instructing the offices to avoid enforce the rules!

    Look at BP and the Gulf, the government allowed this situation to happen and become worst. The people were not listened to and see what happened. Look at eh government offices in Alaska and Anchorage and you will see the same think. The people are not being allowed to lead. The government simply not not believing there is a problem in the field. Poverty is the problem! Survival only is the beginning of poverty. If the rules are written, they need to be enforced. Policy set by the government agencies not in tune with the written rules is not correct!

    Comment: Del Baldwin – 29. May 2010 @ 10:03 am

  4. I have a hard time believing folks Like Starr and Birch will really listen. They have their minds made up and will only listen if the the groups go along with their thought

    Comment: Bill – 29. May 2010 @ 9:54 pm

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