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Letter To The Editor: Citizens' Advocacy Group To Tackle Ongoing City Issues

Send letters to the editor to jenny.manning@patch.com. Please include your first and last name and city of residence.

At the suggestion of Council member Greg Taylor, are forming a citizens' advocacy group. There are some ongoing issues of oversight, and other matters of concern in Renton. Citizens need a place to take their concerns where they'll be heard and helped. And where their concerns can be researched and all applicable information returned to them. They also need advocates for transparency in their governing body.

We hope to provide a forum and a positive means for the city and its residents to communicate. We'll need to attract more members, and to form a 501(c)3. We can foresee that some members may want to focus on women's and children's issues, others on housing or city spending, etc.  All of us are committed to making our city a better place to live. We'll tackle whatever Renton residents bring to our table, and research and help to the best of our abilities. We do have people in the group with experience in project management, change management, architecture and real estate. As we gain members our fields of expertise will broaden, and we'll be able to help more people.

We've had a preliminary meeting and . The meeting will focus on library oversight. We want our meetings to be open and welcoming to residents and city council and staff, and of course the press. We realize that if one of our goals is transparency in city government, then we need to set an example. And we want Renton residents to feel that they're welcome - we have no intention of being exclusive - I see us a positive force for inclusion and dialogue.

Our first project is the library renovation. We have some serious concerns about the oversight of this project. We also are looking into the Highlands. The recent bankruptcy of one of the Newcastle developers, after construction was delayed by 6 years, is distressing.  Especially since per the KCLS Finance Committee meeting minutes the developer for the Highlands Library no longer wants to provide shared parking, which means more negotiation and delay there. We really want that Highlands Library built and can't seem to get a straight answer from KCLS or the City on it. In light of that, KCLS' track record of up to 24% cost overruns and their poor performance audit are worrying matters.

—Beth Asher, Renton

Amy September 05, 2012 at 08:23 PM
Isn't this WHY we elect a City Council and they appoint committee members? We don't need a shadow government in Renton ... right?
@rcwant2be September 05, 2012 at 09:30 PM
I was hoping the discourse in Renton would subside with the library vote finished, but apparently not. I agree with you Amy...this is a shadow government.
taped mouth September 05, 2012 at 11:59 PM
Shadow government? How about calling it "citizen involvement" with the government that is supposed to serve them? Even just the police department needs citizen oversight. Perhaps if citizens were made aware of the details of every internal investigation, they would be able to see if problems exist or not, such as the current situation of a police officer or two about to be fired for yet another crime. Unless the media gets involved, no one outside the department will be the wiser.
Question Mark September 06, 2012 at 05:03 AM
Beth, Thanks for the information. I'm interested in learning more, and wonder if there are other means (besides attending the meeting on Sept 12) to stay abreast of the discussion. The reason I ask is that the City of Renton, along with King County, is sponsoring an informational meeting about the annexation of West Hill at the same time as your next meeting is scheduled. As a West Hill resident, I am definitely interested in what the city has to say to us. However, the communication your group is seeking to facilitate is also important for us here to be aware of as we consider our choice in November whether to become part of Renton. Best, --Mark
Richard Bray September 06, 2012 at 05:44 AM
Residents interests will be served by having an advocacy group that volunteers to provide additional resources and helps look out for taxpayers in the KCLS negotiations for our libraries. Their meetings are open for anyone to participate. This is healthy, open democracy in action. Thank you to all involved. You are turning off the TV to care for our community. You are working to mobilize greater resident involvement. In these challenging times, we need greater collaboration to make smart decisions and use our precious resources wisely to keep Renton "ahead of the curve."
Dave Beedon September 06, 2012 at 07:38 AM
Are you saying that the people who got what they wanted from the library vote should now be quiet and let things happen without citizen interference? If so, why? The location of the new library is not the only issue worth talking about and monitoring. Discourse about government should be lively and on-going.
Dave Beedon September 06, 2012 at 07:45 AM
Three cheers for people like Beth Asher who have the motivation and sense of caring to expend the effort to make our government work better. I'm not sure how the advocacy group will work, but I'm all for it if it helps Renton residents be better served by their elected officials.
Jenny Manning September 06, 2012 at 02:01 PM
Sorry I was unable to attend, but for those of you who went to the meeting last night: How was is?
Kerrick Mainrender September 06, 2012 at 03:52 PM
Productive, so far as I can tell. We will be at the city council meeting on the 10th. See you there.
Jenny Manning September 06, 2012 at 03:59 PM
Good to hear. I'll be out of town Sept. 10-15, so Dave Nelson will be there in my pace. I hope to attend the next Citizens' Advisory Committee meeting. Has a date and time been set for the next gathering?

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