We are asked repeatedly by our elected officials to console ourselves with the most degenerate of political arguments: Though we are not doing as well as we might, we could do worse, and we are doing better than some.
- Wendell Berry
Participation – That’s what it is gonna save the human race. Pete Seeger
- With 15 days’ notice of a public hearing addressing an important land use proposal, we only had three days to review staff recommendations and hundreds of pages of attachments. So, a group of concerned citizens, municipal representatives, and advocates from and for the Agricultural Reserve got down to it.
- We arrived at the hearing prepared to present our concerns. The land use proposal was next on the agenda. From behind the dais, the man who presides over the hearings came towards our group confronting several of us he recognized as we were taking our seats. “I do not want to hear from all of you. Pick one person and make your case,” he commanded. Shocked but not deterred, we pushed back, reminding him that this was a legally required public hearing, that we six stakeholders had signed up to speak, and would do so. His terse response: “I better not hear the same thing again and again. We’ve received a bunch of form emails.” Chill was effectively cast, and I feel we were less effective as a result. And to have had the hundreds of emails from concerned citizens that were written, many thoughtful and personalized, dismissed added to our deflation.
- “Utilize citizen advisory boards and committees for more than just rubber stamping.”
- “We need to resurrect the office of the People’s Counsel perhaps using the successful Office of Consumer Protection as a model. County businesses have government staff to guide and assist them through the complexity of our local system. The people should have this type of resource too.”
- “People should reach out to one another and collaborate like they did with the way they protected Ten Mile Creek.”
- “After the Gazette papers folded, we lost a watchdog. We need better in-depth investigative reporting to hold local government to account.”
- “Publish a good clearinghouse of resources. 311 is not really effective.”
- “Get out of the Rockville offices and into the community more often.”
- “Elected representatives should try to do less a lot better… meaning make a better study of issues and impacts of their legislative actions.”
- “Utilize the strengths of the people who know things and can help, in other words, rely on citizen advisory groups and others who volunteer more.”