By David Pendered
Atlanta has an additional citywide forum to discuss civic concerns, this one created by Atlanta City Councilmember Michael Julian Bond to focus on policy affairs.
Bond said Thursday he hopes the panel will serve as a vehicle for residents to discuss any number of arenas in which the city can do a better job. Its work product is to help guide policy initiatives, legislation, and activities of the office of the Post 1, at-large councilmember.
Bond is the incumbent Post 1 councilmember. Bond said he intends to seek reelection to his current office in 2017.
Bond emphasized that board members will set the agenda, not him or any other city official.
“I don’t want to define it for them,” Bond said. “When citizens have come up with ideas, which I’ve then taken and run with, they never fail. … When I focus on what they want to happen, I’ve had incredible success.”
The other citytwide panel, the Atlanta City Design Project, is being established by Mayor Kasim Reed and will be overseen by the city’s Department of Planning and Community Development. Citizens are to create a vision of how the city should look decades from now. Ryan Gravel is the project manager.
Bond said March 21 is the deadline for nominations to the Citizens Advisory Board. The board could begin work as soon as April, Bond said.
Bond will make the appointments, which do not need to be confirmed by the Atlanta City Council, according to the enabling legislation.
Bond outlined a structure that is headed by a board with 15 voting members and a handful of ex-officio, or non-voting, members.
The board can create subcommittees.
Bond said he imagines the subcommittees will be structured to “mirror” the Atlanta City Council, which has committees that deal with public safety, community development, finance, etc.
Subcommittees can be comprised of a mix of board members and citizens who want to participate, but do not serve on the board.
Each of the 15 board members can be reappointed. There are no term limits.
The non-voting members initially included three city officials – a member from the city’s law and finance departments, and the Office of Ethics. These positions were named in the original resolution the Atlanta City Council approved on May 4, 2015.
At least three non-voting members were added through an amended to the original legislation the council approved Monday.
The additional ex-officio members include the following:
- Representative from the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Department of Political Science or,
- Representative from the Georgia State University’s Andrew Young School of Public Policy;
- Representative from the Morehouse College Department of Political Science;
- Representative from the Clark Atlanta University College Department of Political Science.
The amendment provided Bond the authority to add any number of ex-officio members without council confirmation.
Bond said he hopes the forum will generate an energy level around civic improvements similar that that which came out of the alcohol technical advisory group that he convened a few years ago. That process resulted in legislation that strengthened the ability of the city’s License Review Board to control alcohol sales, he said.
“I’m hoping we’ll get much the same ideas and discourse out of this process,” Bond said. “We want to bring citizens directly to the table.”