Monday, February 25, 2013

INSIGHT: Local Citizen Participation Works

When Local Issues Arise...
 Good citizens seldom wait for federal or state offices to provide an attentive ear.

Whether a local issue challenges a matter as simple as garbage collection or something more complex as the economy, many citizens seek redress by knocking first at city hall's door.

When our country began, government was primarily an organized body of townspeople who attuned themselves to the community's needs. As  local leaders, they were folk who collectively reasoned what to do next in order to abate a worrisome situation. 

True, local problems then had been more clearly isolated.--enactment and enforcement of martial law, road construction,  or where and just how large should a schoolhouse be. However, as the nation grew and township concerns broaden, so did the role of local public agencies.

Now, with a most capable city management form of governance, municipalities function more as corporate bodies with legally adopted missions in behalf of  the community. While transportation, police, and education services remain major responsibilities, local governments today operate a wide variety of  guardian services.

Silence Can Impede Progress...
Strategic planning and astute management practices, now encourage  local public agencies to pioneer pathways to resolve a hundredfold other community problems. Every citizen can have a say-so in constructing that pathway. Most local public agencies  face daily a wide and expanding set of basic issues:
  •  economic development to provide local employment  opportunities
  • maintenance of a suitable housing stock  
  • infrastructural demands like water, sewer, and storm drain facilities, bridges and roadways--all must be addressed in order to make a community  viable. 
 If your city hall does not know what your concerns are, your first step may be to  start attending  city council meetings.

Should your reason for attending not be on the agenda, find out how to get it scheduled on a future meeting's docket.

If the concern is not only an individual one--but an issue that affects your neighborhood or the city or the region--ask others to attend with you.

Participate In Local Decision Making...
We have a representative form of government in the USA.  But should those who represent us not know what we want, we must at least have the kindness to let them hear us out.  When we begin talking to City Hall, that is when progress can be made for  all of our concerns.

Can we afford to continue to not voice what we see as necessary to make our communities viable?  We are in this together. Tell me what you think.

Excerpted from 'Local Government And Citizen Participation'.
 Copyright 2010 PW Dowdy.  All Rights Reserved.

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