Public engagement is a critical component to all infrastructure-related projects and is required by nearly all federal and state agencies as well as municipalities. The engagement process allows each participant to voice their opinion and have their viewpoint considered during the decision-making process, which ultimately shapes our communities’ futures. So, if it is required on nearly every project, why not take a proactive approach that makes participation easily accessible from anywhere as well as offering in-person events that encourage engagement?
On March 18, members of the New Hampshire Municipal Management Association gathered at the Local Government Center for a panel discussion on media relations and the Right to Know Law. Coordinated by the New Hampshire Local Government Center (LGC) with participation by the New Hampshire Press Association, panelists included Foster's Daily Democrat Executive Editor Rod Doherty, New Hampshire Municipal Association (NHMA) Government Affairs Counsel Cordell Johnston, Orr and Reno Attorney Bill Chapman and Town of Durham Administrator Todd Selig.
On any given day, dozens of newsworthy events and announcements are generated in cities and towns across the state. Perhaps there are new hours at the transfer station, the deadline for dog licenses is approaching, a master plan update is underway and citizen participation is desired, or an annual event is on the horizon and volunteers are in short supply. You probably post such news to your website and various bulletin boards. And, of course, you alert the media to the news, too.
New social media technologies provide dynamic, accessible ways for municipalities to communicate with the public and perhaps with a whole new generation of citizens. However, as with all communication, social media presents a number of legal issues municipalities need to recognize. It may be dressed up as something new, but most social media technologies present similar challenges for local officials as their more traditional counterparts.
Town meeting season is upon us, and the ever-present question is: Will turnout be better this year? With fewer and fewer people attending town meeting these days, important decisions rest in the hands of a small group of individuals. In SB 2 towns, voters can skip the first session where issues are debated and discussed—and amended, and come to the polls to cast their vote on issues that they may have little or no prior knowledge about.
The social media phenomenon is sweeping the world. Ninety-six percent of Generation Y has joined a social network and, by 2010, they will outnumber Baby Boomers. Social media is the number one activity on the web. If Facebook were a country, it would be the fourth largest in the world. Over two billion pieces of content are shared on Facebook each week.