A Step Forward On Public Communication By Los Alamos County

By SUSAN O’LEARY
Los Alamos County Councilor

I’m pleased to report that the County Manager’s monthly report, which provides information about county projects and performance, will become a standing agenda item on the second Council meeting of each month. 

This change will give the County Manager a structured opportunity to discuss high priority or time sensitive initiatives in the report, which has been distributed to Council members for some time. 

Typical report topics include updates on ongoing construction projects or information about extraordinary achievements. For example, in this month’s report, there’s an update on the teen center remodel and on other major facilities projects; information about how the County is preparing for the summer tourist season; and activities at county parks and recreation facilities.

By putting the report on the Council Agenda as a monthly briefing by the County Manager, the public visibility of the information in the report will be elevated; and there will be a routine, recurring opportunity for Council Members and the public to ask specific questions about these issues. Additionally, it will add an important feedback loop that will help the County Manager better understand concerns and perspectives from the Council and the public.

I’d like to thank the County Manager for his enthusiastic reaction to this idea. I see this as an opportunity to showcase the talents and contributions of the County Staff and as a great way to keep the community informed about key projects. I’d like to credit Council Vice Chair David Israelevitz for sparking this idea. David has been posting the report on his Los Alamos Vision 2020 Facebook page and engaging in a dialog with his readers on issues raised in the report. This idea builds on David’s good efforts, bringing the discussion from the LA Vision 2020 forum to the Council floor. 

Over the past months, we’ve had several discussions about opportunities for the County Council to communicate more effectively with the public; and we’ve had discussions, especially during the budget hearings, about the Council’s role in evaluating the effectiveness of the County’s efforts. Presenting the County Manager’s monthly report in a public meeting serves both of those goals.

While the Council has a number of duties, our primary oversight responsibilities are to set policy, to allocate resources, and to evaluate and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the County government. The presentation of the County Manager’s monthly report will give us an important tool to better understand and provide feedback on County performance; and it can also serve to improve communications with the community. 

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