During the citizen comments portion of the Monday, Feb. 13 city council meeting, Vancouver resident Steve Herman came forward as a self-confessed critique of the Columbia River Crossing Light Rail Tolling project. The back and forth sparring with Mayor Tim Leavitt caught on CVTV shows Herman accusing the mayor of reading a prepared response to Herman’s complaints during a prior city council meeting.

City councilmembers now use iPads during the meetings.

“Last time that I spoke to you, which was a long time ago, you were asking me some questions and I’ll accuse you of pre-meditating them, because it seemed you were reading them,” said Herman.

“No, I don’t prepare for you at all,” responded Leavitt, tossing the accusation aside. Then Leavitt confessed that he probably wasn’t paying attention. “We have our iPads up here … so I may have been looking at that when I was talking to you. My apologies.”

It’s true, iPads are hidden behind the bench and deliver pages and pages of information and documents to city councilmembers, if not distractions as well.

According to a recent release by Communications Manager Barbara Ayers, councilmembers and city leaders now use electronic devices to send and review hundreds of pages each week. This is Vancouver’s movement to migrate from mounds of government paperwork to a lower paper zone, if not a paperless one.

Ayers reports that the change also affords citizens ready access to documents prepared by City Hall and goes on to say, “That also means moving meetings and information from City buildings, into people’s homes, laptops and cell phones.”

The on-demand meetings access is via the city’s website.

From a sustainability perspective, it could appear as an environmentally responsible move and a cost savings measure. The public can now “attend” a city council meeting without leaving home.

So far, though, there isn’t a way for citizens to speak from home to the city council.

Vancouver citizens can address the city council only two times a month


Consent Meeting & Citizen Forum
Second and fourth Monday of each month, 6:30 p.m.
Council Chambers
415 West 6th Street (2nd Floor)
Vancouver WA 98660


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