On Wednesday evening the Council of Civic Organizations (CCO), Virginia Beach's civic league federation, took a stance on the City's Community Legislative Package process. Over the past few years, community input has been deleted by Council, filtered by City Staff, and obscured by meetings not being well-publicized. The CCO Resolution seeks to reform the process to get effective citizen input.
The Resolution reads:
"Whereas the City of Virginia Beach holds an annual community forum to solicit input from citizens regarding items to include in the city's legislative package to the General Assembly, and
Whereas both the Virginia Beach Council of Civic Organizations and the City's Blue Ribbon Tax, Fee, and Spending Taskforce has recommended that City Council seek greater input from stakeholders when drafting city policy and determining priorities, and
Whereas the determination about which items from the citizens' input merit inclusion in the city's annual legislative package and the level and weight of city support given to these items has, at times, been a source of confusion for members of Council and a source of frustration and contention for citizens,
The Virginia Beach Council of Civic Organizations does hereby request that City Council:
*direct staff, no later than April 30, 2008 to set a time, date, and location for the 2008 Community Legislative Forum,
*that the format for such legislative forum be similar to the city's Town Meetings, that it be held during the evening as other Town Meetings have been held, and that all members of Council strive to attend the meetings so that they can hear citizen input firsthand and unfiltered by city staff, so that members of Council may be able to judge each citizen recommendation on its own merit when determining whether to include such recommendation in the city's legislative package and when determining the appropriate level and weight of the city's support for such recommendation,
*that the time, date, and location be communicated to citizens and other stakeholders in writing no later than May 31, 2008 and be included on the city website, in future editions of City Page and by other customary means of communications for Town Meetings, and
*that such meeting include a written briefing by city staff on all staff recommendations which staff propose that City Council include in the city's legislative package, so that members of Council may hear feedback from citizens and other stakeholders before voting to support or reject staff's recommendations."
The Resolution was duly passed under Standing Rule 1 unanimously and without amendment.
Councilperson Rosemary Wilson, one of Council's Liaisons' to the General Assembly, was present. She stated she had no problem with what was in the Resolution.