Gainesville Sun by Andrew Caplan
August 3, 2019
Gainesville officials are looking to change the way the public can interact with elected leaders following a dysfunctional city meeting two weeks ago during which commissioners and residents spent hours shouting back at each other.
Among the changes being proposed, which city officials say will enhance communication, are re-implementing a public comment sign-up rule and erasing the commission’s online email portal that residents can view.
The email portal has been online for about five years and was implemented for transparency purposes, coinciding with Gainesville’s “citizen centered, people empowered” slogan.
In a recent op-ed to The Sun, City Clerk Omichele Gainey said getting rid of the system has more benefits to the public than the current model, adding the change wouldn’t affect transparency because the emails are still available through record requests.
The Sun currently has a three-week-old open request for emails from June to July for an estimated $67 after the system had publishing errors over the summer.
Gainey did not respond Friday to requests for comment about the proposed changes.
Commissioner David Arreola said the portal has its benefits and helps showcase the city’s level of transparency. He said deleting it would be counterproductive and require more staff time to fulfill requests.