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Local Government by Intimidation

            While researching information reported in a recent Town and Country story, I reached out, visited, and interviewed about a dozen people living in the community involved.

            I was seeking information and what I got was an earful about the people who govern their community.  Completely off-track from the information I was seeking.

            But, I listened.

            Bullying of those who request information, those who file a complaint, or those who disagree with officials (elected or appointed) were most often cited.

            All were fearful of retaliation should they return to the municipal office or public meeting to ask a question or file a complaint.  Asked why they voted for their officials the answer was; we didn't.  Most of the time the candidates are running unopposed.

            Straying from the reason I was there I asked why they don't run for office.  The responses ranged from those who don't want to be a bullied minority, those who felt they're not qualified, and those who just don't have the time.  There were even a couple who opined that it wouldn't do any good unless a complete change occurred.

            If I can listen to their complaints you should too.  Local officials need to know what's right and who's right.  Perception is reality – if one perceives you to be a bad local official, then in their mind you are.  Sometimes you need to mingle with your constituents and listen to their issues and offer them constructive feedback.  You may not be able to solve their problem but at least let them know why, instead of demeaning them.

            This is not the way local governments should work.  After all, these are your neighbors. I remember the time when candidates were proud to serve their local communities and the people who lived there.  There was no financial gain to be had in being a local official, just a tremendous amount of self-satisfaction for a job well done.

            Today, it seems like some enjoy their perceived power more than performing their responsibilities.  Not all local, public officials, just those who forget that their position comes with a responsibility to all the people of their communities, not just those who agree with them.  The perception of local officials who curry favor with others for personal gains was mentioned one, two, or a half-dozen times.

            There was a time when not too many folks attended local government meetings because they trusted the officials to do the right thing.  Now too many folks don't attend local government meetings because they are afraid.

            Fortunately, most local government officials still remember their friends, neighbors, and all the community residents, not just the ones who voted for them.

            I encourage all residents to sit in on a few of their local meetings and draw your own conclusions. 

            You could come away being satisfied, disappointed, scared, or maybe embarrassed.






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