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Posted on November 20, 2019 at 10:06 AM by Bryan Obenchain
In the past few years, the City of Minot has made a concerted effort to improve and expand its communications both within the organization and with the members of our community.
This column is part of that ongoing process, and we thank the Minot Daily News for their partnership in allowing us to communicate directly with their readers. Our bi-monthly columns are only part of our overall communications strategy to share accurate and timely information with members of the community.
There are many important projects and vital daily operations going on with the City of Minot, and we understand that it’s difficult for community members to keep up with everything. Often, major construction projects get a lot of attention because of their effect on our daily routines. Bigger projects, like the gathering space or implementation of a new trash collecting system, also capture the community’s attention, for good reason. But there are countless others projects and decisions that may be less obvious but are just as significant to the everyday operation of our municipal government.
More than ever, it’s vital that our community is properly informed.
That’s why we continue to make changes to the methods we use to disseminate information, including adding live broadcasts of City Council meetings on Facebook, YouTube, and on public access television. Council meetings, the City Manager’s monthly report to the Council, and Planning Commission meetings are archived on YouTube, as are other important City meetings. The archive is a valuable tool to utilize if you are looking for information or if you want to catch up on the discussion about a certain topic, like curbside recycling or a proposed building project within the city.
We’re also sharing information in a host of other ways. We’re utilizing social media to provide information to the community, including informational videos about budget discussions, explanations of how departments are structured within the City, and reminders of important upcoming City events. Our electronic bi-monthly City newsletter continues to grow; you can easily join our subscriber list at minotnd.org. In addition to this column, our Fire Department contributes a monthly column focused on public safety and education in The Minot Daily News.
In the past few years, the City has held numerous public town hall events at various locations throughout the City, and we’ve now held two State of the City events to provide updates and information to the community, with another event scheduled for early 2020. Providing accurate and timely information about what’s happening at the City of Minot is one way to help ensure residents remain informed and encourages residents to become part of the overall process.
All of these methods of communication have one thing in common: Accessible and available information. Our goal is to provide as much information as possible in as many different formats as possible to reach the widest audience possible.
And, yet, we know there is more we can do to help the residents of our community remain educated about City projects and events, and be involved in the civic process. As public employees and elected officials, we accept that we answer to the members of our community. In fact, we embrace that responsibility. Despite ill-informed opinions otherwise that you may read online or elsewhere, our community is at the forefront of every decision we make. We’ve openly and repeatedly chronicled the many ways we’ve cut costs and improved multiple processes during the past two budget cycles.
At the City, we know it’s our obligation to provide accurate information, and we remain committed to doing that in as many ways as we can. But just as we accept our responsibility, those seeking information have responsibilities, too. Unfortunately, not everyone chooses to accept that obligation. As I stressed in this column two weeks ago, our goal is to increase civility and accountability in discussions about City topics, both in-person and online.
You, as community members, can help us accomplish that goal. Whether or not you’re aware of it, your role is vital in maintaining and improving the spirit of our community. As part of that role, I ask these things of you:
Remember that Minot is a great city. Are there things that need to be improved? Absolutely. Has the City gone through some difficult years recently? Clearly we have. Are we perfect? No city is. But don’t believe the naysayers who do nothing but complain without adding anything constructive to the conversation, let alone take positive action to help us improve. There are countless progressive and positive things happening in our community, and those who choose to focus solely on the negative are doing all of us a disservice. As we’ve said before, we do not shy away from criticism. Criticism can play a key role in helping us identify and make improvements. But the criticism must be factual. It must be truthful and based in reality in order for it to be taken seriously or be effective in moving the conversation forward.
Be skeptical of claims on social media. Again, just because someone writes a negative comment about the City or our community on social media or some other public platform doesn’t mean it’s true. If you question an online claim or statement about the City or a City-related project, find out for yourself. Minotnd.org is full of contact information for council members, department heads, and other City employees. Ask. We’ll answer.
The truth is out there. The deliberate spreading of misinformation will likely continue among the few vocal critics who know better, but instead choose to perpetuate their self-serving narrative that everything the City of Minot does is wrong, and that our community is destined to fail because of inadequate leadership. It’s simply not true, and don’t be afraid to call them out and shine a light on the falsehoods when you read them. In reality, Minot is full of hard-working people who take great pride in their community, their school systems, their businesses, their homes, and themselves. As individuals, we choose to move forward to make Minot a better place to raise our families. At the City, we will not ignore the intentional denigration of Minot. As a community, we cannot let the trolls tell our story; the truth is too important.
Sincerely, City Hall