Government By The People
When I was attending last night's Council meeting, and after I saw only one citizen - who happened to work for us citizens as a dispatcher - speak on the proposed merger with the county on dispatch services, I was appalled. Moreover, it saddened me to see how little discussion there was before the vote on Resolution 15-35 was taken. Hopefully, when the final negotiated package comes back for a final vote of approval, we the people will be treated to a more impassioned, educational debate about such. At this point, I don't see any reason why any citizen or member of council should support a merger, and in lieu of an overwhelmingly strong case by the proponents thereof this needs to be rejected.
Now that I have spoken my peace about the dispatch merger I have to share a related idea. Whether or not I manage to get elected this November, I desperately want to see the city get the citizens more involved in the governing of our city. It's clear that the people and their government currently view our collective course through a different set of lenses. The people see problems that they don't think their government is prioritizing and the government sees progress that appears invisible to the people. How do we rectify this?
For one, I suggest that each member of council - as well as the Mayor, President of Council, and the Administration - take it upon themselves to survey their respective wards or the city on at least a weekly basis. Visit citizens at their houses - regardless of where they live, and irrespective of their being on the voter registration list - and engage them for input about what needs to be taken care of and look for their ideas on the solutions for such. Additionally, I think it would be an amazing investment of time for all involved if the city held a monthly or bi-weekly forum at a public location with the intent of seeking the people's cooperation or partnership in helping to pave the way forward. I'd recommend holding these events at the library and dubbing such regular meetings as a "Citizen-Government Working Group/Committee" gathering.
With a member of Council, or even the Council President, presiding over such, the goal would be to establish a line of communication with the public, encourage more active participation, and to promote our democracy further by way of letting those in attendance help craft legislation to address whatever it is they want dealt with. Tell me what you think, would you be interested in participating in such an event? What ideas would you bring to the table? Go ahead, express yourself.