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Community Advisory Councils: Improving Resident Access to Detroit City Government

By Aaron Goodman, CDAD Community Outreach Associate

Establishment of Community Advisory Councils moving forward in City Council

At the City Council Formal Session on January 14th, 2013, Council addressed a letter sent by CDAD and its coalition partners requesting action be taken towards the establishment of the Charter-mandated Community Advisory Councils (CACs) in each council district.  City Council has referred the matter to the Planning and Economic Development Standing Committee.

 

This committee will begin the work of crafting the ordinance establishing CACs.  Throughout the process it is important to be in touch with your Council representative and let them know that you expect quick action on the CAC ordinance that will facilitate improved accountability and citizen access to city government as intended in the 2012 Detroit City Charter.

 

The Planning and Economic Development Committee meets on Thursdays at 10am on the 13th floor or the CAY Municipal Building.  The members of the committee are as follows:

 

Gabe Leland (District 7), Chair: lelandg@detroitmi.gov, 313-224-3443

Scott Benson, (District 3), Vice-Chair, 313-224-1198

Mary Sheffield (District 5), Member, councilmembersheffield@detroitmi.gov, 313-224-4505

 

Read below to learn more about CACs and how can they help improve citizen access to city government and elected officials? If you are interested in getting involved in the CAC Coalition, please contact Aaron Goodman, CDAD Community Outreach Associate: aarongoodman@cdad-online.org or 313-832-4566

 

Community Advisory Councils: Improving Resident Access to Detroit City Government

 

When the new Detroit City Charter was approved in 2011, one of the most anticipated changes was the creation of city council districts and having seven city council members elected to represent those districts.  With the results of last week’s elections and a new district-based City Council that will take office in January, Detroiters now have raised expectations of greater accountability and responsiveness from their elected officials and city government.  However, there is a lesser known provision in the charter that will play a critical role in fulfilling our expectations of the new council and further raise the bar for resident engagement with local policy issues and elected officials.  Community Advisory Councils are mandated by the City Charter, yet there is more work to be done by both Detroit residents and the City Council to bring this important tool into existence.

But what exactly are Community Advisory Councils (CACs) and why are they important?  CACs will be an official body in each Council district composed of residents and helping connect community members directly with city government.  CACs must hold at least four official public meetings per year which their City Council member will be required to attend and they will also meet annually with the Mayor and City Council to discuss challenges confronting the district and the resources needed to support the interests of the district. On all issues of importance to their district, the Council member is required to consult with the CAC to gain the input of community members.  The duties of the CAC outlined in the City Charter also include disseminating information to residents on social and physical plans for the district, assisting residents, businesses and organizations in community problem solving, and providing advice to community representatives and City Council on major issues within the council district.  The makeup of each CAC will consist of five residents elected from their City Council district and additionally one youth resident ( age 13 -17) and one resident “selected as representing senior issues”, for a total of seven members of the CAC for each district.  The youth and senior positions will be appointed by a process yet to be determined by City Council.

CACs are an important tool to promote meaningful community engagement in city government decision-making and maintaining communication and accountability between residents and their City Council member. Additionally, residents who serve on the CAC will gain excellent experience that can help prepare them to become the next generation of Detroit’s leaders.  For all of these things to happen though, we need action both by City Council and citizens.  Residents in each of the seven council districts must submit petitions signed by 10% of the voters in the last election requesting the creation of a CAC for their district and City Council must draft and pass an ordinance to establish and set the parameters of the CACs.  Over the next few months, CDAD will be working with its members and other partners to promote greater awareness about CACs and encourage City Council to take action that is in keeping with the City Charter and the will of Detroit citizens.

For more resources and information about CACs and the 2012 City Charter in general, you can visit:

CDAD presentation on Community Advisory Councils

2012 Detroit City Charter

Det Charter: Detroit’s source for all Charter related news

 

 

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