Monday, June 23, 2008

CIty of Victoria Advisory Committees

I understand the city is not happy with the way the committees work. I can see that the way they are set up encourages a system of talking shops as a farm league for people wanting to be municipal politicians. I suggest changing to a jury style system.

What I suggest the city do is move to ad hoc committees filled with randomly selected citizens to serve on them. The ad hoc committee would be created for a specific topic for a specific length of time. At the end of the time the committee would report out on what they thought about the subject.

People would be selected for the committees randomly from people living in the city. You send out several hundred letters and invite all the people to an introduction meeting. At that meeting, anyone interested in serving would allow their name to stand for a random selection of 12 people to serve.

What this would do is that it would mean we have people on the committees that are unlikely to be there because of their special interest group or because of their political desires. You would also get a better representation of people in the city on the committees. Most people in Victoria choose not to vote but they are not the ones serving on the committees at the moment. It is bad governance not hear from the majority.

We trust juries to make decisions in court cases, certainly we could trust a similar process for issues in local governance. I have a huge faith that the politically uninvolved public has a lot of smarts and commonsense that can be used to create innovative solutions to our problems.
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