The largely procedural first meeting of Goleta’s Public Engagement Commission on October 26 elected Pedro Paz as chair and Sherri Bliss as vice chair, after encouragement during a short welcome from Mayor Paula Perotte, who emphasized the far-ranging effects their work would have on the city’s future.
City public liaison Valerie Kushnerov explained to the assembly the many ways the city sent information to residents, whereupon a discussion began among the commissioners on how to engage the Spanish-speaking population. James Kyriaco asked whether public engagement was a two-way street: Did the city ever hire “secret shoppers” to call various city departments in Spanish to see how quickly they were answered or referred to someone else? Sylvia Uribe asked if there was any budget to support outreach efforts and also reminded her cohort that the large Asian population in Goleta might also need translation services. Barbara Massey asked if the meeting should start at 6 p.m. instead of 5:30 p.m. for the convenience of working people.
Those questions are likely to be answered over the course of upcoming meetings; the next one is Thursday, December 14, Chair Paz confirmed. As several commissioners asked, that’s when the group will begin to get into their duties — forming a charter city, mayor’s tenure, council salaries, and how to engage the public, only one of whom attended the meeting. City staff will be working up a calendar outline for any deadlines involved with those items, with the commission’s next duty to decide in what order to tackle them.