Activating Democracy: Are Public Meetings Broken?

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A woman asks a question at a public meeting in Reno, Nevada.  (David Calvert/Getty Images)

Many of the biggest decisions shaping our communities, from new housing developments to how school districts spend money, are made during public meetings. Laws like California's Brown Act set guidelines to ensure that the public has a say in and has access to those meetings. Some experts, however, say the public meeting system is broken. Too few people participate and those who do don't adequately represent the public. As part of Forum's Activating Democracy series, we break down how people can best navigate the system, and how it can be improved.


Mindy Romero, founder and director of the California Civic Engagement Project, a non-partisan Research Center at the University of Southern California

David Snyder, executive director of the First Amendment Coalition

Patrick Sisson, senior reporter, Curbed

Myrna Melgar, former president, San Francisco Planning Commission