March 1, 2012 at 9:45 pm #154719
Did you go to a council meeting, participate in a volunteer day, try to get a law changed or argue about a zoning permit? Have you ever run for office? What are some easy forms of participation?
What was your last non-tax related interaction with your city, county or town government?
March 2, 2012 at 6:18 pm #154757
Going to work this morning! I work at City Hall, so…
Seriously though, this is a fantastic question. Many people do not realize the democratic involvement citizens can make in changing things locally. Too frequently council meetings are under attended, or attended when its innappropriate. Too many times the translation of government speak into english is absent and the public is aware that there are times and places for which the public can make a huge impact and benefit. This frustrates and annoys people and deters their future participation. This is true for zoning appeals, law and policy issues, and funding/budgeting decisions. Civic engagement is a growing movement and I think that this question begs the response of how to increase the number of non-election, tax payment, or complaint contact people have with their local government offices.
March 2, 2012 at 6:44 pm #154755
In high school I went to a town hall meeting to vouch that our coach shouldn’t have been fired. He should have been fired. Actually, he should have been charged with criminal negligence.
March 3, 2012 at 6:37 am #154753
I have had a lot experience with local government. Back in 1997- 1998 I interned with a LA City Council Member at the city hall office so I used to observe Council Meetings I also wrote a policy paper about LA City water policy. I have gone to Sacramento County Board of Supervisor meetings. Currently I work for Dept of Child Support and I have been there for the last seven years so I have seen the service that my agency provides to people receiving child support as well as for the people having to pay child support. We work to provide excellent customer service to the public coming into my agency and it is a very nice feeling to observe that.
March 4, 2012 at 10:26 pm #154751
Actually, I cannot remember the last time – nor the first time even!
March 5, 2012 at 1:43 pm #154749
First one came to mine was tax-related: property taxes
Technically I’m a fan of my county on Facebook but I rarely see those activities
Honestly not sure – I do think I may go to a planning meeting this week that is discussing next steps in my neighborhood for building
March 5, 2012 at 2:13 pm #154747
The DC Department of Transportation does a good job at responding to citizen requests via Twitter. They reply right away if you let them know about potholes, blocked bike lanes, etc… It’s pretty cool to get a personal response from local gov.
March 5, 2012 at 2:37 pm #154745
My last issue with county govt was two years ago. The “busy buddies” at my HOA approved a fence for my backyard but demanded I get permission from the county to build it across a drainage ditch. Called the county guy he got on Google earth looked at the lot, ditch and approved the installation in minutes much it seems to the dismay of the HOA
March 5, 2012 at 2:59 pm #154743
Cool story! That’s a good way to make use of Google Earth. Were they at all concerned that the images were outdated?
March 5, 2012 at 4:48 pm #154741
I would say I’m nearly inactive. But my parents got rather involved in local and state issues (and even campaign fund raising) in pretty much every town they ever lived in.
But I recently attended 2 hearings to save the county hospital which the county gov’t is auctioning off. There seems to be no one supporting the freeholders sale – there was no who attended the hearings nor in a letter to the editor saying anything positive in backing up the freehoders, and it seems the freeholders will still go through with the sale, what a disaster that will be. I also go to rallys for Government workers here in NJ.
I have written letters or made phone calls to my Mayor or State Assemblyman/Senators offices to get something fixed. You could have heard the Mayors jaw drop when I explained I had actually voted against a school budget because I DIDN’T like the volume of cuts that were in the budget! I wanted them to spend more $ on the school system because it literally sucked! Well it still sucks and I sent my kids to the local Vocational school. You should have heard the dissappointment in the assistant Superintedents voice when I told him my children would attend the local vocational HS (my children tested very high in the assessment tests and they needed their “statistics”. Mostly because the state rep for the county told me to move when I explained my childs minimum needs were not being addressed by the district, that I can’t get a meeting scheduled with the teachers or even the principal and that the acting superintendent wouldn’t return my calls. The local vo tech school has honors classes and no discipline problems. (The state makes educational rules but has no consequences set up if the district doesn’t meet the rules!). Please note I used to be a HS Science teacher and can talk jargon and educational rules with these people.
I get emails from my local assemblyman and participate in surveys he sends to his constituents. I was asked if I would run for local gov’t but I never went to any of their meetings in 25 years and when I asked if “I could get things done without knowing or being forced to play politics” I was told no. I have attended 2 school board meetings presented an idea that would help the limited income folks not have to pay increases in property taxes they loved the idea but never instituted it. Therefore- I always seem to vote for a name that hasn’t been on the ballot before but “the same ole same oles” still get in.- and my good ideas still don’t get listened to.
Growing up I was a student representative for the Environmental commission, I didn’t get to do much. My Mom was a volunteer lobbyest for environmental quality and I went to the State House with her several times to watch debates, hearings, votes etc. I used to get bored and sit and watch the “blind guy” make change at the news stand in the lobby, or explore halls where my legislators offices were-one time I looked into the govenors office and no one was around soI walked in and I sat behind his desk, then thought I should leave in case a police officer came in! LOL. My Mom introduced me to Milicent Fenwick who had a Doonesbury character designed after her. After my first day with her at the legislature (I was about 11 years old) I told her I thought the legislators were very rude to not sit and listen to the person who had the floor making a point, they may have changed their mind if they were listening!
It was quite an experience not every kid gets to go through, but I still feel I won’t be listened to when it comes to good ideas if I were to get involved in gov’t.
March 5, 2012 at 8:55 pm #154739
This may sound unusual, but I went to a longtime council member’s memorial service. “Officially” it was a couple of months earlier when I stopped by City Hall to pay my water bill, because I hadn’t bothered to mail it & happened to be in the area on a business day.
March 6, 2012 at 2:15 pm #154737
Apparently not he did send me an email confirmation of the approval so the HOA had proof. I do know some federal agencies have a much higher resolution of Google earth down to meters or lower so maybe he had access to a similar system.
March 6, 2012 at 3:13 pm #154735
I work at City Hall…I agree with what Andreas Addison said about people not making their voices heard. Very rarely do citizens come to council meetings (shown also on tv) unless it is to complain about something after the fact…..when if they would have voiced their opinions/concerns before the results may have been different.
March 6, 2012 at 3:39 pm #154733
Dorothy Ramienski AmatucciParticipant
I got to meet a few members of my county government at a recent WMATA hearing. Although our metro here in DC is not a government entity, there were a lot of local government officials present.
March 6, 2012 at 6:13 pm #154731
Stacy L. CarpenterParticipant
Interacting with municipal boards has been a weekly (if not daily) activity for the last 12 years. Many years as a consultant communicating with Board and Committees for site planning needs and more recently as an appointed Board member and special Committee member within the home town.
March 6, 2012 at 6:40 pm #154729
My last interaction with my local government was a few weeks ago at a hearing concerning a dispute over access to a city-owned park by a soccer team. I went as an interested party and was prepared to speak at the hearing if needed (which it wasn’t). That experience got me to thinking more about involvement, because prior to that, my engagement was paying my bills for city services, voting in city elections, and that’s it.
March 6, 2012 at 7:34 pm #154727
It seems like most of you have had generally positive experiences except for low attendance at town hall meetings. Anybody notice which certain topics at town hall meetings incite the community to interact with the local government more than others?
March 6, 2012 at 7:46 pm #154725
Stacy L. CarpenterParticipant
Proposed infrastructure such as: rail trails through residential areas, affordable housing projects and the development of previously undeveloped areas bring out a lot of interaction with the government from the community.
Services closings such as hospitals, post offices and schools bring residents out as well.
March 7, 2012 at 2:02 am #154723
Getting involved at the local level helps tie me to my community. I have served as a volunteer on two boards both utilizing my expertise and background. My most recent position on the Urban Forest board lasted 5 years; the previous one on the recreation commission lasted 6 years. Others on the UF board suggested I run for a city council position, but I don’t have that kind of time and commitment level. I have met many interesting community members that I would have not met otherwise through these boards. I have worked local community events as well – staffing a booth at our city festival, judging floats at city our 4th of July parade, or representing the city at other community forums.
Our city also hosts regular forums asking for community input. I attend these when I have a strong feeling one way or another (the last one was on what to do about the overpopulation of deer infiltrating our city). These are very easy ways to get involved. Attend events such as the parades, holiday open houses, and regular city council meetings.
March 21, 2012 at 7:58 pm #154721
Jerry R. WhetstoneParticipant
I’m a fire chief for our City and I can tell you that not as many people will come to a Council Meeting and say whats on their mind now days. So when you ask if I go to the Council Meetings, yes I have for about 18 years now twice a month.
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