6/11/2007

Inquiry

"Negative."

"Troublemaker."

"Pot-stirrer."

"Sh*t Disturber."

Those are just a few of the names I have been called since I started this blog a couple years ago. (And the last one was from my dad!) While my criticisms may at times be pointed, I think for the most part they are fair. I understand that fair criticism is not necessarily "right," but it is essential and OK to have disagreement in a free democratic society.

It strikes me as curious, then, that so-called 'public servants' are often so resistant to any actual involvement by the citizens, despite professing (often loudly) their belief in 'open government' and 'citizen participation.' Talking the talk is common; walking the walk, not so much.

When it comes right down to it, this blog is really just three citizens' participation in their government. Asking questions, raising points that may not have been considered, criticizing decisions and locating and posting information are not bad things. Why, then, are so many officials resistant?

I know that at least one person on the City's staff has said that I am "nothing but a troublemaker." Another public employee with a different entity referred to my request for a public record as a "witch hunt," snidely suggesting that I must be low on "blogging material."

In some sense, I think the response is elitist. The great unwashed is really not competent to consider the "complexity" of many issues and so we should just leave it to our elected (and unelected) officials to lead the way. The amazing part, too, is that when these officials get their way and botch matters, they are surly and defensive.

One person commented to me about how difficult it would be to do a project like the coal plant with all the public scrutiny, including from this blog. "That's true," I replied, and suggested that this openness and scrutiny might well serve as reasons why public entities should stay out of business ventures that are typically private.

I have also learned that I should not always post right away. In all honesty, being called a trouble maker, or a witch hunter, pisses me off. The fact that the City has essentially refused to produce John Lawton's correspondence related to the coal plant pisses me off. These people do not own our government. It's ours, not theirs. If it were up to me, attitudes like that would cost them their jobs.

But it's not up to me. And those who have the ability to control 'staff' choose to ignore much.

Here's an open ended question, preferably to government officials in our town. Answer anonymously if you want. But dig deep. Despite all of your public protestations to the contrary, it's true, isn't it, that you would really just like us to butt out? We're obstacles, right?

6 comments:

Wulfgar said...

I am not at all attempting to one-up you, GeeGuy, but seriously, I've been called far worse having accomplished far less. What you and Moorcat are striving for, on your local levels, is obscene to the powers who have been taught that their will is absolute mandate ... with all privilege implied thereby. You are a trouble maker, and that's a truly beautiful American thing considering who it is your making trouble for.

Really, what the nay-sayers want to do is wear you out. Nill illigitimi carborundum.

Treasure State Jew said...

GeeGuy;

There are many worse things than to be a "pot-stirrer", "troublemaker" or "sh*t disturber." Many worse things.

Socrates was called a gadfly. He also spoke truth to power. Now, he was forced to drink the hemlock; but we remember him and not those that imposed it.

Keep on speaking truth to power. It is the only thing that can keep the powerful honest.

Aaron

David said...

Welcome to journalism!

Anonymous said...

This cracks me up----most of your posts are only because you are conveying your frustration at the difficulty in getting "PUBLIC" information.

rabblerouser....

a-fire-fly said...

I sincerely apologise for calling you a trouble maker. And for laughing my ass off when I read that post. At least your dad came up with something fairly original to call you!

Anonymous said...

This is a great point:

And those who have the ability to control 'staff' choose to ignore much.

and added to that thought:

“He that cannot obey, cannot command.” - Benjamin Franklin