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Recording City Council Nov 21 2023 This is a benchmark recording by citizen volunteers who are seeking a more transparent, accountable, and accessible city government in Ely, MN. This meeting on November 21, 2023 is multi-purpose educational tool for residents to observe City Council in action. It’s also intended to be used as a mirror for City Hall, City Council Members, and appointed Commissioners to objectively observe and reflect on their own behaviors and beliefs. Are they really for, by and of The People? What does that look like? What could it look like?

We have been recording other City and Commission meetings with the same goal. We start with a benchmark and follow up with more recordings. We started documenting City meetings after there were huge protests against the City and “our” Planning & Zoning pushing development of a huge RV Park Campground in a residential neighborhood on Miners Lake.

At the Council meeting on Nov. 7th, there was a very candid and upsetting disclosure about what occurred at the Oct. 18th P&Z meeting. On Nov. 7th, Council was requested to adopt codes of ethics, standards of conduct, conflict of interest and opening meeting policies. We are developing a new website, Ely Politics ,to educate residents, local businesses and organizations, City Council, Commissioners, and City Hall on important issues and how politics works (the good and the bad). Humans are not perfect. Governments are not perfect. We want to migrate forward and create a more perfect local government that reflects all the people and our environment.

This recording is a benchmark on how City Council operates. What tools in Council Chambers, especially visual ones, are used to help the audience in Council Chambers and at home better follow along and thusly better understand complicated issues throughout the meeting? And also appreciate awesome people, events and businesses here in NE Minnesota. What (non)technical tools are being used — or not — in this benchmark? What is being projected on front and back walls? What is posted inside or outside the Council Chamber, especially maps and charts, for the public to consult (without wastefully printing so many pages)? After watching this recording, maybe Council will re-purpose that huge movable chalkboard that has had the same drawing visible to to the public for months (a year now)?

This recording is also a benchmark to observe how Council and City Hall welcome, encourage and process input from the residents in the Ely area. Does Council then use this input for deep discussion and actions to fix problems? What happened since the last Council and P&Z Commission meetings? Will controversial issues like the need for codes of ethics, standards of conduct, conflict of interest, open meetings laws, etc., be addressed — skipped over or ignored?

Throughout tonight’s meeting and during future Council meetings, listen to questions, comments and motions from Council: Can you tell who they talk to? What new or old issues do they bring up for discussion? When they talk about development in the area, do they start with citizen input (beyond just those appointed people they know), fiscal responsibility, appropriateness of location(s), activities, needs and interests of all citizens? What kind of openness and outreach to citizens does Council make and sincerely want? Talking is not the same as doing. Forward thinking doesn’t just mean having plans for more housing and more tourists. What discussions, steps ordinances, etc. does Council need to consider for “our Posterity,” as mentioned in the Preamble?

Note: Around the 8:15 time marker, Cindy Smyka’s presentation on Ely’s Tourism Bureau was outstanding, informative and full of visuals projected on screen and with printed materials.

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