A more inclusive citizen survey
Pasco is a city where the residents are predominantly Hispanic but its leadership is predominantly white.
Until recently there was little recognition, among its leadership anyway, that this was a problem. But a tragic police shooting of a Hispanic man last February brought local and national scrutiny on relationships between city officials and the Hispanic community it serves. Through that process a healthy understanding was gained by city officials and residents that things had to change.
Recognizing the need for greater diversification on the city council, two Hispanic candidates ran against white incumbents in November. As high as passions were running, at least one of the challengers should have been successful. But neither won. Voter turnout among the Hispanic population was low.
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It would have been easy for city officials to interpret the low turnout as a lack of interest. Instead, the city rightfully interpreted the turnout as further evidence of how disconnected its majority population is from city government and is taking steps to bridge that gap.
The city is taking part in the National Citizen Survey, a questionnaire to measure public opinion about the availability and quality of city services and the resident engagement in the community. The study calls for a printed survey to be mailed to and completed by “a statistically valid sample” of 1,400 city utility customers, according to Deputy City Manager Stan Strebel. That was done.
But the council recognized that the survey likely under-represented the concerns of the Hispanic community, so it expanded the survey’s reach by adding an online version that can be done in English or Spanish.
The results will be kept separate from the original survey results but the information gained from both surveys will be used to develop goals and objectives for the next two years.
The Pasco City Council and City Manager Dave Zabell and his team deserve a thumbs up for their outreach efforts and for recognizing the responsibility of constituent engagement rests with them.
Running on auto-pilot
We worry a bit about our mental acuity when we can’t confidently write a sentence without the use of grammar and spell-check functions on our computer. Computers have made our lives easier but we also understand there’s a danger in becoming complacent.
But few of us realized just how dangerous over-reliance on computers can be before we read Monday’s story about commercial aviation’s dependence on automation and how studies and accident investigations have raised concerns that pilots’ manual flying skills becoming rusty.
The story states, “as automation increases, pilots have fewer opportunities to use manual flying skills. Industry studies and committees have found that pilots who don’t get to use their manual flying skills may not be prepared to handle unexpected events.”
In January 2013, the agency issued a safety alert to airlines encouraging them to promote opportunities for pilots to practice manual flying in day-to-day operations and during pilot training. But the FAA hasn’t followed up to determine whether airlines are following the recommendation.
Thumbs down to airlines who had to be told pilots should practice and to the FAA for lax oversight.