Knowledge and civic involvement could help voters understand the inner workings of government and give people more realistic expectations – that was a common theme that emerged at California Forward’s most recent civic dialogue in downtown Los Angeles.
CA Forward partnered with Hispanas Organized for Political Equality (HOPE) and the Southern California Leadership Network (SCLN) to bring together dozens of participants from private and non-profit organizations all over the area.
Helen Torres, Executive Director and CEO of (HOPE) and Kevin Cotrell, Executive director of SCLN welcomed participants and helped set the stage for the dialogue on how to improve our state.
After a presentation by California Forward Policy Director Richard Raya on California Forward’s goals, people broke into groups to discuss and give feedback on the tools Raya outlined to keep state legislature accountable to provide basic public services.
Town Hall Los Angeles President Dr. Jon Goodman said her group wants to see better access to information, so voters can understand the process and engage in an educated way.
“There is essential a lack of information of civic processes,” she said. “People don’t know how the sausage is made, so there have inappropriate or unrealistic expectations. The key issues that we’ve talked about in my group were the lack of knowledge on how the government actually works and lack of civic strength.”
After the meeting, Goodman said meetings like this are valuable. “I loved coming to the meeting today and learning something.”
Jeffrey Kiernan, Regional Public Affairs Manager for the League of Cities, L.A. Division, said his group agreed that public education is a top priority, and that local officials also need to be trained.
Kirenan also wondered how to handle communities with poor performance. “Will cities be forced to give the money back if they are performing poorly?”
Silvia Soto, who works at a senior center in East Los Angeles, said she enjoyed coming to the dialogue. She also said the county is implementing measures right now to assess performance for community and senior citizen programs, a development 30 years in the making.
California Forward is hosting dialogues all over the state. To attend an event near you, check out our events page. Or, you can host your own event.