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New System Would Make Giving Testimony At Government Meetings More Efficient

The Rev. Shane Harris, President of the People's Association of Justice Advocates, speaks to local media at Waterfront Park on June 23, 2021.
John Carroll
The Rev. Shane Harris, President of the People's Association of Justice Advocates, speaks to local media at Waterfront Park on June 23, 2021.

Giving testimony to a city council, school board and the like can be time consuming. You often have to wait hours just to talk for two or three minutes on the item you want to weigh in on.

“The people are not prioritized at our public meetings held by our county boards and our city councils,” said civil rights advocate Shane Harris at a Wednesday news conference at Waterfront Park.

Harris is the President of the People's Association of Justice Advocates and proposed a solution to the long waits. It would entail four of the county’s largest governmental institutions - the San Diego City Council, the County Board of Supervisors, the County Board of Education and the San Diego Unified School District - making a simple technological change to how they do business.

“Adopt a text message notification system into their public meetings so that if somebody is set to speak on an agenda item, they can get a text message when their agenda item comes up,” Harris said.

RELATED: San Diego City Council Considers Keeping Remote Option For Public Comment

Harris calls his proposal “Boost Democracy” - making things easier for people who have lots of obligations in life, who don’t have the time to sit around waiting for a particular item to come up.

“It should be made easier and more efficient for the constituents of this county, not harder," Harris said.

Harris was surrounded by representatives from various organizations ranging from business to education, all of whom say the text message idea is spot on.

“We have both the Republican Party and the Democratic Party on board with this. This is only gonna boost and increase participation in our government meetings," said Jordan Gascon, President of the non-partisan Latino American Political Association.

Video: Boost Demo

So far, only San Diego Unified has committed to adopting the text system. Harris said he's still waiting to hear back from the City of San Diego, the County, and the County Board of Education as to whether they’ll follow suit.

Harris brought a model of the cartoon character Buzz Lightyear to Wednesday's event, to drive home the point, as he put it, that the text proposal isn't rocket science, just common sense.

He said he hopes all the governmental entities will adopt his proposal by the first week of July.

New System Would Make Giving Testimony At Government Meetings More Efficient
Listen to this story by John Carroll