HOLMDEL, NJ - There's a new girl in town, and she's making some big changes.
When Cathy Weber campaigned for office in 2019 she made a number of promises she intended to keep. Now, during the first agenda after reorganization it appears that her initiatives are beginning to take shape. According to the agenda, there are three simple, yet major changes in store for this Tuesday:
- Agenda timeliness
- Public input prior to voting
- Filming and streaming meetings
Weber shared her views on three key objectives on her campaign Facebook page, "I think we need to focus on some form of tax relief or adjustment for all residents of Holmdel we need to look at ways to do that - perhaps taking the Bell Works PILOT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) money and giving that back to the taxpayer - that's first priority. Secondly, we absolutely have to improve transparency and openness in our government process and there's a whole host of ways to do that from posting agendas earlier, to recording our meetings, and third, we need represent all residents of Holmdel." Her second point is the subject of this article.
For local media and folks that are signed up on the citizen portal the first big difference was receiving the agenda much earlier - it was sent out on Friday. Oftentimes, it's published the evening before the meeting, which makes participation in local government difficult. This new change will allow residents to be more informed and knowledgeable about township affairs well prior to the meeting. You can read the agenda HERE
Another initiative is to add public comment before agenda items - while it's a simple idea many governing agencies do not do it. Mandatory public comment is often relegated to the end of the meeting. Effective Tuesday Weber's initiative - which she initiated during the reorganization to the support of the full committee - will begin formally.
The big news from the agenda is the introduction of an ordinance that will vastly increase the transparency of Holmdel governance on a permanent basis - It is the live streaming and archiving video of the meetings.
Technology today can bring data and information to the public very simply and very inexpensively. Notably, by sharing information more effectively folks that are homebound, disabled, traveling or otherwise unable to physically participate in a local meeting can participate based on a new ordinance that scheduled for first reading on Tuesday. You may even be able submit questions on-line to be answered in public at some point. Think of a homebound senior citizen who has a question about a tax program. Imagine an email to a portal during the meeting through streaming. That would be a way to provide inclusion and diversity in public processes.
After the second reading and passage of the new law, you can expect streaming, likely by spring. In the meantime, local environmental non-profit CILU works hard to film the meetings. Visit the CILU You Tube channel for some entertaining footage of the 2019 Township Committee.
During the reorganization meeting, Weber appeared to have the full support of the Township Committee on her initiatives, showing strong leadership in her first formal meeting as Deputy Mayor. Weber, the new woman's voice that speaks for Holmdel.