"Present to answer questions were City Manager Bob Cumley, Police Chief Lynn Rowe, Traffic Engineer Earl Newman, Parks Director Jodie Adams, Economic Development Director Mary Lilly Smith, City Utilities Associate General Manager Scott Miller, and Public Information Director Louise Whall." ~ Community Free Press - Midweek Dec.19-Jan. 1, 2008.
Wiley may not be a perfect Councilman (I haven't met one yet) but even though there have been some years he's been disappointed by the turn out at his annual meeting he has kept having it! He kept having it because he told the people who voted for him that he'd have an annual Town Hall meeting so, whether those voters take advantage of the opportunity or not Wiley has kept his word and whether you like John Wiley or think he is a good Councilman or not he should be commended for it.
Look again at the list of people that he made available to answer questions at the last Town Hall meeting! They didn't HAVE to be there, folks. There they were, on a week night, honoring Wiley and YOU by volunteering to show up to answer people's questions....look at the line up! Wiley was right to be appreciative that they took time out of their busy lives to be there for people in Zones 2 and 4 to question.
About 50 people took advantage of it. 50 people.
I'm sorry folks, all the complaining about a "good old boy network," about how our City's staff doesn't do a good job, well, there they were. You could have asked them anything. They could have answered or they could have waffled, regardless, it would have offered some insight into how our city's government works.
City Council members have a responsibility to represent their constituents. Do their constituents have a responsibility to let them know how they would like to be represented? Are they just supposed to know how their constituents feel about issues as they come up? Maybe they're supposed to listen to Vincent David Jericho of KSGF or read JackeHammer? Are they supposed to find out what their constituents are interested in by reading the News-Leader forums? Is the Missouri Liberty Coalition going to inform them for you? Maybe if you leave a comment at busplunge or write a letter to the editor of the Community Free Press they'll know how you want them to react? How you want to be represented?
They listen to that show, they read those papers and blogs, believe me, I know, but when you speak at City Council meetings, when you take time out of your life to show you are passionate enough to attend a meeting, that is when they take you seriously, that is when they are prepared to listen. I think it's safe to say anything less than getting involved in the formal process is considered as so much sour grapes by Council and city staff.
When Councilwoman Rushefsky told me that the 68 citizens who had applied to be a part of the City Manager Search Committee was a good amount of people I was surprised. Maybe I shouldn't have been surprised and I'm struggling not to be pessimistic. I'm struggling not to be frustrated over the lack of interest in the City Manager's Search Committee Town Hall meeting last night and I'm struggling that no one had any comment at the Council meeting last night about the City and C.U. unnecessarily donating $20,000 each for a Partnership for Sustainability, HELLO?
Vince summed it up well on his program this morning. The State Auditor was as strong in her opinion as she could be from her position when she said she believed C.U. was violating the state constitution by contributing to such alliances, by contributing to charitable organizations from profits that a public utility shouldn't be making in the first place. I guess it doesn't matter, or it matters but it only matters as an issue to be complained about after it is approved, not when complaining could make a difference in the actual outcome of a bill.
I can report what citizens say at City Council meetings. I can write glowing articles about how citizens made a difference in city government but first they have to make a difference or there simply isn't anything to report.
“I don’t think most people understand how much influence they have on what government does,” Rushefsky said. “It carries a major impact and actually relieves a lot of the burden of governing because, as an elected official, you want to be responsive to their needs.” ~ CFP Midweek - December 19 issue, Citizens Helped Change City in 2007