Let The Sunshine In: Public Access is Granted!

Let The Sunshine In: Public Access is Granted!

Mayoral Candidate Mike Zwirko Will Make Government More Responsive, Accessible and Accountable.

Posted on Melrose Patch:
https://patch.com/massachusetts/melrose/let-sunshine-public-access-granted

Sep 2, 2019 2:04 pm ET

Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis famously stated in 1913 that "Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman." Speaking mainly to vast political corruption in the early 20th Century, Justice Brandeis advocated for a more accessible government, because he saw this as the most effective - and trustworthy way - to make government more responsive to the people.

Throughout my career as Alderman-at-Large, I have tried to emulate the words of Justice Brandeis in my interactions with the public and department heads. I have made countless requests for additional information on budgetary items, enterprise fund data, committee minutes, as well as enhancements to our agenda items. On multiple occasions, I have hosted open and uncensored Q & A sessions with the public - during non-working hours - to bring my work as your public official to you. I do this because I feel very strongly about how government should function: under the sunlight. As Mayor, I will have the ability to go even further and I intend to do just that.

I will re-start the Mayor's podcast and create a virtual comment box for ideas from residents with responses from the Mayor's office. While the Mayor's Blog is helpful to advertise community events and City updates, it is a woefully antiquated means of communication. Love it or hate it, residents use social media. Government needs to go where the people are and do everything to be accessible and modernized. I will increase our presence on social media, with all departments, and have a more rapid response to issues and improvements ongoing in our community. I will continue to host regular Q&A sessions with residents and hold "pop-up City Hall" booths at the Farmer's Market and other locations outside of typical Monday - Friday City Hall hours.

The Planning Board is arguably the most important non-elected board in the city. The decisions they make have profound impacts on our neighborhoods. Yet they are huddled in a small conference room that can barely hold its members. Let alone the developers, their presentations, and members of the public who attend. We need to increase the transparency of the Planning Board by making their meetings recorded and televised on MMTV. Same goes for the Zoning Board of Appeals. From time to time the issues before these boards can ultimately move to litigation. Having a recorded transcript of entire meetings and statements is key to aiding litigation matters. Currently, we only have copies of minutes and recitations.

Finally, I will post real-time and historical budgetary information that will be available for download from the City's website. The ability to download this information will allow for aggregated data to be pulled and analyzed so trends and other findings can be reviewed. We have an amazing pool of talents across our community and I don't pretend to be an expert on everything. If we have residents who are willing and want to analyze and recommend suggestions about our budget or our process, I am all ears and I welcome the assistance.

A Mayor needs to visible. A Mayor needs to be active in all facets of administering the services provided to our community. No task is too small, and no challenge is too large. The more time a Mayor spends behind a desk, the more they will miss what is going on across the rest of the City with their own eyes and ears. Only when you have something to hide are you hesitant to let the sunshine in. Let's build trust, shine the light, and work together to improve Melrose.

Mike Zwirko