Local Government & Public Agendas

During this pandemic, local governing bodies are on the publics’ hot seat more than ever before. With today’s technology, we can watch the city council and county commission meetings live. I find the public comment sessions most telling about the emotions of those who come to the podium. It is especially evident when the subject matter is masks, lockdowns, or school closures.

Fellow citizens, well-intended as they are, voice opinions based on gossip, social media, and articles they have researched. They speak of medical journal articles they have read and hold to be the final word, despite the testimony of medical experts earlier in the same meeting. Some cite media articles as evidence for their position.

These most vocal citizens gain the attention of those elected officials up for reelection this fall. They are politicians and may fall into the trap that the most vocal speak for the broader community. After watching many of these sessions, I believe they represent only themselves and maybe a few others.

Media coverage of these meetings tends to focus on the drama and outrageous statements. Some feel costumes will help their cause. Today, one woman upset with the commission found it necessary to conclude her comments by saying she recently took firearms training and purchased a gun. I believe this kind of rhetoric is harmful to our community relations.

Our society seems to be in a frenzy as we are facing issues previously unknown to our country. It’s left versus right, urban versus rural, and rich versus poor. Again, I’m, praying for a return to civility.

…that’s 30 for today. Stay safe.

2 thoughts on “Local Government & Public Agendas

  1. I find your observations similar to mine, so you must be right! Seriously, we are in a climate here in K C Mo where a group of people want to recall the Chief of Police and now there is another group wanting replace the Mayor. It is a bit crazy out there and the media only offers sensational and superficial coverage in most cases.
    I now ask myself daily, what can I do to encourage better understanding and civility in my world of influence.

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  2. Civility and the need to be civil extend beyond city and county boards as we are in the midst of this pandemic and its impact on our communities. I spent 19 years as a school district administrator charged with providing advice to citizens elected to represent their neighbors on school boards. Now we are seeing special interest groups plead their cases to school boards regarding whether schools are open or closed, whether sports continue or are delayed, whether kids can learn as well online as in person. Most school board members come to the position with a goal to improve their communities. None expected to face attacks from those who elected them. In one school district, it was my job to engage “public relations.” Almost nothing positive happening in the schools gained the attention of the media. Only the negative slod the news. In those days, the major newspaper’s advertisers were real estate and automobiles. Therefore, painting the city schools bad helped advertisers sell more houses in the suburbs and cars to get folks there. The culture is far greater than civility alone.

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