Citizen Participation

Below, I posted to excerpts from recent columns about American voters and how informed or uninformed they are or are not. (Here and here.) I did this not to insult any among us, but to add a different flavor to a long conversation that has been occurring on this blog. (See, for example, this thread.)

I think most of us agree that all government, including City Government, should be more open to the citizens. But while that might be a nice bromide, what do we really mean?

The readers of local blogs are a group of people, self-selected, who are truly interested in local government. Should those people (us) have a voice? Absolutely. They have demonstrated the inclination and ability to invest a little effort to improve their understanding of what is going on.

This is not some touchy-feely management brainstorming session, though. There are such things as crazy ideas and dumb questions. The idea that "more" citizen participation will always equal "better" government and success for our little town is, in my opinion, naïve. That is why I suggested that any citizens group had to be carefully selected to include individuals who had demonstrated the ability to succeed in our society.

This is not to say, though, that all ideas outside the mainstream are crazy or that all unorthodox quetions are dumb. The question, obviously, is how to find the balance between those who "know" and those who can truly help.

Based on the recent history of government in our town, I agree, I think, with most of you that in the short term we need to err on the side of more participation and less of a club-like attitude. Where this takes us in the longer term, though, is the $64,000.00 question.


Anonymous said...

"we need to err on the side of more participation and less of a club-like attitude. Where this takes us in the longer term, though, is the $64,000.00 question."

Gee Guy, I aggree with your assumption quoted above. If we do not give it a good try, then we will never know. The people have a right to be heard and their "good suggestions" carefully considered. If the politicians (paid or not) do not want to take the time and energy to do this, then they should not be there in the first place........

Anonymous said...

The problem is that these energy guys are a bunch of LYING BASTARDS! That's right. They are lying bastards, and many of us who have confronted them for a long time know it. And they KNOW we know it! I'm not making this stuff up. I stood up at a meeting held at UGF when northwestern first came calling. Mike hansen was there, all smiley and bubbly oily enough to make me puke, lying his ASS off about his new gas fired plant for GF. With the entire room as witnesses, I asked hansen if we were going to have to PAY for his proposed gas fired plant. He assured me PROFUSELY and ENDLESSLY that I was wrong, and the NO public money would be used for the plant. WRONGO! It wasn't about a month later that lo and behold, WE, the public, were the ones that were going to pay! And I ALSO remember at that same meeting and subsequent meetings thereafter, Stuart Lewin asked hansen whehter or not the company was suspectible to bankruptcy. AGAIN mikey nearly wet himself assuring us how solvent his company was! Bankruptcy? NEVER! It was ALL a bunch of LIES! It took about six months or more, but NW filed for bankruptcy. And on and on and on. So, what most people DON'T realize is that these no good bastards are OUT TO HURT YOU! They don't give one damn about the ratepayers. And the sooner that people realize that the better. SO, along comes SME with THEIR promises. And one unelected, unaccountable individual (jonny no vote) is going to decide for the ENTIRE FRIGGIN' CITY AND THE SURROUNDING area to build a polluting, toxic monster in our midst for which will we get the privilige of paying! Now THAT'S just damn WRONG! That's what I'm talking about when I complain about no representation. This is such a monumentous, horrendous decision that it should NOT be made by one man alone! It should be thoroughly, openly, and vigorously debated by the public. And THEN we should have the opportunity to vote on it. PERIOD! This sort of thing is happening all over the country, ESPECIALLY in areas where the economy is not the brightest and neither are the folks in charge. (see primadonna and jonny no vote, and the entire council) And these coal plants are being fought all over the country. Do a little research and you will see. It's a scam. You see, it's all very complicated, but essentially derer screwed us. These energy companies have a LOT of baggage that they never show when they come to town. The don't mention ALL the liabilities they have as a result of other investments, such as nuclear plants that will eventually have to be decommissioned as HUGE costs. You see, with dereg, we all got thrown into the energy mix. Now, we Montanans get to share the costs of ALL their other investments gone bad etc. We really DID get screwed by Ratco and the Repubs. (and yes, a few dumb Dems too) But it DOESN'T have to happen again! So, in conclusion, for dog and cat issues, and maybe pool improvements, jonny no vote and co. can't srew up TOO badly. But regarding energy issues, they can hurt us REAL bad. And this is the type of hurt that will KEEP ON hurting for a long time! Just like dereg! So, yeah, I think that we need to get some new people on the council that understand this. And one more point. EVERYONE that I talk to is opposed to this plant. So, how can the council be for it??? Sumthin' REAL wrong with representation like that.