July 8, 2021
While Pocatello’s City Council considers the 2022 Fiscal Year Budget, potentially impacting residents’ property taxes, members of the citizen’s group, Pocatello for Accountable Government Entities (P.A.G.E.), have been diligently attending City meetings and collecting/analyzing data obtained from the City and elsewhere to ensure public accountability.
Established in April 2020, P.A.G.E. is a multi-partisan, data-focused grassroots group formed to foster more thorough, fact-based analyses of local issues, broader community engagement with local government, and greater government accountability.
According to the group, “P.A.G.E. gathers data via public record requests and from various trustworthy sources and then analyzes and reformats this information. They share noteworthy takeaways and opinions, hoping to build interest in the local community with the information they provide, and share relevant data with local leaders to assist them in making more informed, fact-based decisions.”
“We seek answers to our questions by gathering information in the hopes of bringing light to current issues and helping our community and our elected leaders make better-informed decisions,” said P.A.G.E. cofounder, Heather Disselkoen. “We saw there was a shortage of relevant data available to leadership and didn’t think some issues and decisions were being explored thoroughly or analytically enough, so we tried to fill that gap to encourage deeper questioning,” said Disselkoen.
She and her co-founder, Lydia Noble, who retired from a 30-year career with Idaho National Laboratory where she held positions in procurement, accounting, and finance, say they are a good balance. Although they come from different political backgrounds, they decided to collaborate around the shared values of honesty, transparency, and fiscal responsibility to achieve common goals.
P.A.G.E. is currently seeking additional volunteers. There are no special qualifications. People are needed to attend meetings, read minutes, submit record requests, sort through data, give public comments and write emails. “We also need help building a website and growing our social media following. If you can give us one hour a month, you can help make a difference,” said Disselkoen. The group believes the most important contribution a citizen can make is to attend council meetings and learn how elected representatives make decisions. Doing so, they say, would show the council that you “the people” care about how they make decisions and are concerned about the budget and the spending decisions we have tasked them to make on our behalf.
To learn more about P.A.G.E., or to inquire about volunteering with the group, visit their Facebook page at: Pocatello For Accountable Government Entities | Facebook