Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Village Secrecy Creates Angry Citizens

The citizens of a nearby village, we'll call it Anytown, are about to vote on a very hot topic: whether or not to save a crumbling relic that was the original high school. For several years, a committee attempted to raise money to buy it from the school district and rehab it into a community center. They haven't been successful. That should have said something to the committee but it forged on, pushing the village board for support.

A neighboring town broadcasts its board meetings on local cable.  While the discussions are hardly on par with a new episode of NCIS, most citizens are interested in the new businesses that come to town, what the mayor has planned for the 4th of July celebration, and how the budget looks. Citizens feel knowledgeable when they go into the voting booth. They know exactly who stands for what because everything is in the open.

Anytown does not televise its meetings.  The mayor claims there's no money in the budget for it. I suppose those in charge fear what the citizens might hear in an unguarded or heated discussion moment. Certainly if their citizenry had known about any consideration to fund the building rehab, the board would have heard an outcry two years ago. Anytown could have saved itself a lot of expense.

The voters made their position clear when they did not attend the fundraisers or donate to the committee. Low participation was a visible demonstration of the lack of support.  Sometimes silence says more than an entire speech. 

Now Anytown is holding informational meetings and the politicians see how angry the voters are. Apparently the village board members were taken by surprise; something that would not have happened if Anytown broadcast its meetings.  It's all about communication and, in this case, important ears haven't been listening. It could be a costly mistake in more ways than one.  This is an election year.

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