Attend a Local Government Meeting in Late January/Early February
Our league suggests that members attend a local governmental meeting of their choice during late January/early February, and then discuss what they learned at their February unit meetings.
By attending or viewing local governmental meetings we learn a lot about how our elected officials and committee members think, and about how our local governments operate. We learn about hot issues.
Also, it is important that local governmental committees understand that the public is watching. Agenda materials should be available on-line ahead of time for interested members of the public. Copies should be available at the meetings for observers. Committee members should speak clearly enough to be heard by observers.
We suggest that league members attend as interested citizens, not as official representatives of the league. Official league observers are not authorized to speak to committee members about an issue without prior approval from the League President or Executive Committee. However, interested citizens can talk to committee members during breaks or after the meeting and can present their point of view during public comment periods of the meeting. Anyone who wants to be free to comment should not wear a league button or identify himself or herself as a league member.
Before setting off for a meeting, we suggest you get the agenda and make sure the date/time/location have not changed.
Here are some options for meetings:
Local School Board
Check with your local school district. Each has a website.
For residents of the Madison Metropolitan School District, the board of education has a site with a calendar and notices of meetings with agendas and minutes.
Check your local city, village, or town website for meeting information.
City of Madison
The Legistar system is used for both City of Madison and Dane County meeting information. madison.legistar.com will take you to the calendar view by default. Click on “Boards, Commissions and Committees" to get to a complete list of city committees. If you click on the name of a specific committee, you get to a screen where you can choose to see different views. You can click on “Calendar View” or “Meetings” underneath the name of the committee to see scheduled meetings. If you click on a specific meeting you can see the location and agenda. “Members” lists the committee members.
For City of Madison residents, some options are listed below. The closest parking ramp to the City-County Building is Government East, 215 E. Pinckney St. On-street parking is free after 6 p.m.
- Finance Committee: This powerful committee meets Monday, February 12, 4:30 p.m., Room 354, City-County Building, 210 MLK Blvd.
- Public Safety Review Committee: Wednesday, February 14, 5 p.m., Room GR-27, 211 S. Carroll St. (enter City-County Bldg from the Carroll St. entrance). This committee reviews information from the police and fire departments.
- Board of Park Commissioners: Wednesday, February 14, 6:30 p.m., Olbrich Botanical Gardens
- President's Work Group on Surveillance, Monday, February 12, 4:30 p.m., Room 103A, City-County Building. This is the first meeting of this group, which will study a variety of public surveillance technologies and laws.
- Madison Police Department Policies and Procedures Review Ad Hoc Committee, Thursday, February 15, 5:30 p.m., Madison Urban League, 2222 S. Park St. (Tentative; check Legistar before going.) This meeting will review the Police Department response to the OIR Report.
The Legistar system is used for both City of Madison and Dane County meeting information. dane.legistar.com will take you to the calendar view by default. Click on "Committees" to get a complete list of county committees. Click on the name of a specific committee. At this screen you can see “People” who are the committee members. “Calendar or Calendar View” lets you see scheduled meetings. Click on the specific meeting to see the agenda and exact location. County committee meetings are seldom listed far in advance, and agendas are often not available until the Friday before the meeting.
- Personnel and Finance: February 19 at 5:30 p.m., Room 351 City-County Building, 210 MLK Blvd.
Viewing in your home
Madison City Channel covers the County Board (which generally ratifies recommendations of committees, where the substantive discussion occurs), Madison Common Council, and some other meetings. You can watch on your TV or your computer. Find the broadcast schedule and streaming links here:http://www.cityofmadison.com/citychannel/meetings/
Sun Prairie: KSUN covers some and other community events: http://www.sunprairiemediacenter.com
Your local community may have some similar option for viewing a meeting without braving snow and ice.