From tonight’s agenda, Chapel Hill’s new communications plan the opening paragraph emphasizes a friendly openness:

The Town Council believes that open communication with all citizens is an important community value. The Town of Chapel Hill makes a consistent effort to be a helpful, accessible, consistent, unintimidating and human source of information; and works to assure that those served always feel welcome.

Further on the staff elaborates on

A communication program built on strong themes is more effective than a program with scattered and unrelated messages. Key themes will be communicated frequently in a variety of ways, using simple, repetitive messages. Messages gain power from consistency and repetition.

· The Town of Chapel Hill is an ethical, effective and well-managed government.
· Town tax dollars are spent wisely.
· Town staff and the Town Council are public information ambassadors.
· The Town of Chapel Hill is an open organization, and citizens know how to access information.

But when asked to preserve some previous openness, the Town Council deferred. The request was simple enough, restore one citizen to the Council’s email distribution list tonight and ask staff to develop a process so any of our citizens can join in the very near future.

As a member of the list, the Council receives timely bite size flash reports on the advisory boards, bulletins on police and fire incidents, complaints and compliments from citizens (very illuminating) and fresh agendas. Access to the list nearly halved the amount of time I spent researching relevant material.

Unfortunately, a simple, no cost, nearly no effort request for an action conforming to both the spirit and the legality of the State’s open records laws has become a bit of a quagmire.

Any other citizens want broad, timely access to the exact same information our Council receives?

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