Letters to the Editor

Tacoma: Listen more closely to ordinary people

Re: “Tacoma City Council votes to give Citizens Forum a tweak, but not a full overhaul,” (TNT, 12/14).

Tacoma City councilors’ proposed cancellation of the Citizens Forum is just a symptom of a deeper problem in the representative democratic process we inherited.

Blame for uncaring councilors and uncivil residents rests predominantly on the process we have used for generations. We have not questioned if it achieves the goal of getting our concerns heard and addressed by our elected officials.

I envision an Issue-based community listening infrastructure to bridge the communication gap between elected officials and their constituents.

This infrastructure must go beyond individual council members “listening” in their respective districts and conducting facilitated mediations.

Before mediations, this system must bring together ordinary residents to collaboratively identify root causes of shared concerns and potential solutions, as a continuous improvement or quality control process would.

Any potential solutions need to ensure they work for all, instead of a few, or “my” group. What works for one group may be detrimental to another.

Finally, there must be a path to the City Council agenda for those items that require council action.