Help Wanted

Dear Reader,

WRAP involves only a few people to monitor what is going on in the Truckee Meadows.  Like you, we have our personal challenges, health considerations, and day-to-day chores and obligations.  At the same time, we are faced with many development and related issues in the region that are worth following.  We could really use some help, even a few hours a week.

Following Public Meetings

Nevada has comprehensive open meeting requirements so that deliberations and decisions are in public view.  Unfortunately, some meetings have no attendees representing the public or the media.  As a result, there is no coverage of the deliberations or the decisions that affect our neighborhoods and our quality of life.  These meetings might as well be held in a back room among old cronies.  They say “Sunlight is the best disinfectant for political decisions.”  This is true, but it requires someone to witness what is going on.

What’s Involved

By statute, all the governmental bodies have to publish an agenda at least three days in advance.  Items may be dropped from the agenda within the three days before the meeting, but items can’t be added.  These agendas are available online.  This is the practical approach.

  1. Look at the calendar for the coming meeting for the specific government body and see when and where they will meet.  Regular monthly meetings are sometimes cancelled if there isn’t much to cover.
  2. Look at the agenda for the coming meeting and see if there is a major issue being considered.  If the issues look routine or minor, skip the meeting.
  3. Attend the meeting (or view on cable TV or online) and make notes about the major issue (or issues) being considered.
  4. Compose a blog post describing the issue, the concerns that are raised about it, the deliberations, who made points to consider, and what the vote was.  I will happily edit your blog post for clarity and brevity.  Alternately, you can send me your notes, and I will compose the blog post.  I can credit you with the work, or I can post it under my name.

Coverage Needed

We need volunteers to take up a “beat” like a newspaper reporter.  For simplicity, and to avoid duplication, I look for volunteers to follow a specific governmental body.  We need volunteers to cover the following entities.

Reno City Council (They meet from 0 to 4 times a month.  Their meetings are broadcast on local cable channels and are available quickly online.  The online format allows the viewer to skip to a specific agenda item.)

Truckee Meadows Regional Planning Authority (TMRPA) They meet typically once a month during the day, but their meetings are not available remotely.  You need to drive to their office or to the county chambers or to another location to see their meetings.

Washoe County Board of Adjustment (Meets monthly in the evening on the first Thursday at the county commission chambers.  I don’t think their meetings are available remotely.)

Truckee Meadows Water Authority (Meets roughly once a month.  Their meetings are in Reno and Sparks.  Some are broadcast.)

Citizens’ Advisory Board, North Valleys (Meets monthly in the evening at the North Valleys Community Center.  Their meetings are not available remotely.)

Why bother?

We’re all busy.  Why add something to our responsibilities?

  • We are all aware of the malfeasance and compromised ethics behind decisions that detract from our quality of life.  The first step to change this is to make these decisions public.
  • You will quickly become a citizen-expert regarding the body you are following and about the issues impacting us all.
  • Rather than feeling helpless about the bad decisions, you can make a difference and actively defend our neighborhoods and lifestyles.
  • You can be part of the success pushing back against the decisions of the “good old boys” network.  Neighbors and activists are changing the way decisions are being made.

Closing pitch

Do not be intimidated.  We will help you with links to the meeting calendars and online agendas.  If you can’t attend or follow a specific meeting, let me know and I’ll seek a substitute.  This is not a lifetime commitment.  If you can only volunteer for a few months, it’s still a benefit to the readers.

Beyond monitoring the Washoe County and City of Reno bodies, we need to be looking ahead.  We need to be thinking about how we might influence the coming elections for the county commission and the city council.  We also need to be planning what changes we want to see in the state laws to reduce the blatant favoritism shown to developers in the code.



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