Opinion

This committee did it the right way

I have served on a number of public committees, panels, commissions and advisory groups over the years for various public organizations.

There are typically two reasons as to why public committees are conveyed. The first reason is that they are a mandatory requirement under federal, state or local legislation, code or policy. The second reason is that they are a convenient way for public leaders to control an outcome, shift the blame or simply avoid making a hard decision themselves.

I have worked with groups of establishment leaders and community members who have come together and contributed at a highly efficient level. Together we completed some excellent work in regards to the task or issue at hand. The conclusions and recommendations from this type of conveyed group were welcomed, embraced and fully utilized for the overall good by the elected or appointed leadership stewarding the entire process.

I have also worked with groups that were simply just slapped together or conveyed in such a way as to meet the minimum legal requirements so that certain public entities remain in compliance with their own laws and policies. Conclusions and recommendations from groups like this were simply accepted, the group was collectively patted on the head and thanked for their efforts and not a single thing was ever done with any portion of the report generated.

In 2013, a Citizen Advisory Committee on the Mental Health Sales Tax was conveyed by the Kitsap County Commissioners in response to the 0.1 percent sales tax that was approved for additional funding to services that will include mental health, court services and chemical dependency.

This committee has blown the collective doors off of what can and should be allowed when it comes to true, honest, deliberate and unfiltered recommendations from a citizen advisory group.

Here is the perfect example of what a balanced makeup of participants and stakeholders can do when they are empowered with the ability, as a group, to request and collect information, ask questions and work on culling and approving multiple solutions that are professionally presented to them.

The ability of the committee to work at such an elevated level also speaks to the professionalism of committee chairman Russ Hartman and his staff.

The coming crisis triage stabilization center is a critical and much needed piece that will benefit the entire county. The meticulous due diligence that was exercised by the citizen advisory committee to push back and ensure that the program and facility will be successful and sustainable is excellent work.

My confidence in the system is bolstered as a citizen and taxpayer by the evidence that we currently have a group of county commissioners who were willing to empower such a well-represented committee and then be smart enough to stay out of their way as the recommended solutions were constructed, vetted, justified and then moved forward for unanimous approval.

My thanks to everyone involved.

Colleen Smidt is a longtime resident of Bremerton who writes about issues that matter in her community.

 

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