Program Committee

Overview

Each year, the Community Council brings citizens together to study important issues facing the region from Dayton to Burbank and Milton-Freewater to the Snake River. Topics of concern are solicited from citizens throughout the region. The Program Committee reviews, selects and prioritizes the issues, and recommends the top-ranked issues to the Community Council Board of Directors. The topic approved by the Board becomes the next study focus.

Committee Members

The President of the Community Council Board of Directors appoints the Program Committee Chair in January.

Early in spring, in consultation with staff, the Chair selects 12 to 15 members representing a wide variety of interests and geographic regions. Ideally, media, business, labor, human services, civic leadership, education and other diverse elements of the community are represented. Consideration is given to gender, age, and racial balance. The committee may include newcomers to the Community Council, people who have served on previous Program Committees, those with experience in the study process, and members of the Community Council Board of Directors.

Solicitation and Development of Issues

Throughout the year and through a wide variety of channels, the Community Council seeks suggestions for potential study issues. Criteria for selection are published to guide the recommendations, and a form is supplied for mailed responses. Suggestions may also be submitted by email and telephone.

Community Council staff analyzes all of the suggested issues in relation to the selection criteria. From the total received, eight to twelve of the most promising suggestions are developed into one-page issue statements, each of which outlines the definition and general scope of a potential Community Council Study. If possible, before the first Program Committee meeting, members receive this guide and the full list of suggested issues.

The Program Committee meets weekly in the Spring, usually three to five sessions of one and one-half to two hours each. The Chair, in consultation with committee members and staff, determines the meeting days and times.

The Role of Community Council Staff

Although Program Committee members and Board members make the study selection decisions, staff contributes to the process through their knowledge of research and of the study process. Specific staff responsibilities include: assistance in identifying Committee members; preparation of materials and forms; solicitation and compilation of suggested issues from the community; development of issue statements; assisting Committee members with preparation for advocacy presentations; and compilation of the Committee’s report to the Community Council Board.

Guidelines for Advocacy Presentations

Committee members assume the role of active advocates in favor of a topic. The presentation outlines the definition and scope of the issue and justifies choosing it, based on the selection criteria. Advocacy presentations should last no more than ten minutes. While listening to the advocacy presentations, committee members evaluate each presentation in relation to the selection criteria, using a prepared form. After each presentation, committee members discuss the issue for five to ten minutes.

Guidelines for Selection

Selection is based upon the Committee members’ evaluation of each issue in relation to the selection criteria. By written ballot, Committee members rank the issues in order of preference. The top choice and the alternate are then recommended to the Board of Directors.

Selection Criteria for Study Issues

Selection criteria help to measure the appropriateness of an issue for study. Topics chosen must closely fit the following criteria.

Definition and Manageability. Is the issue adequately defined so that a Study Committee would have a clear understanding of its assignment? Can the issue be researched and effectively handled by the Study Committee process? Is the issue manageable—not too amorphous or too broad to be covered adequately? Is the necessary data available and accessible?

Importance. Is the issue of importance to the regional community? Does it affect large numbers of people on an economic or quality-of-life basis? 

Necessity. Is it likely that other groups can or will carry out a similar study?

Community Interest. Is the issue likely to attract participation from a broad spectrum of community members?

Effectiveness. Can the issue be resolved by reason, based on fact, or are the emotional overtones too great to permit reasoned analysis?

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