Citizens of Hamilton
I am writing today to chastise you (I bet that gets your attention), and this includes myself and the city council members.
Like so many people in town, I rarely attend a city council meetings. In fact, I attended my first meeting in years just last night. To be honest I was really disappointed in what I saw. First, in a town of over 1800 people, less than 25 made an appearance at the meeting. And apparently this was a BIG meeting. Now I blame,some of that on the city. At one point in the meeting I asked why it is that the city doesn't use social media to publicize meetings, hearings, boil orders, etc., and I was told they don't have to. In fact both the city,attorney and the city administrator were very quick, on multiple occasions, to point out what they are LEGALLY required to do or not do in certain situations. The council members seem to defer to either of these two men when any questions of transparency or access to information are brought up.
I understand that there are legal considerations to take into account but I would ask that after you look to them for the legal requirements that you look at each other and ask "How will this look to my fellow townspeople?” With two full time clerks and one full time administrator, no one has time to send out a text message, much like the school district does, to notify townspeople of upcoming or pertinent city information? Not one of them can log onto the city's Facebook page and post an update? Sure they aren't "required" to, but since this is indeed the 21st century and a lot of tax paying citizens lead busy lives, working outside of town, running children to different activities, and therefore get the majority of their news through social media, doesn't it make sense that a city who wanted active participation from their constituents, would do everything in their power to get that information out there? The days of posting at city hall and the grocery store are long gone.
I asked again about using closed meetings to discuss the sale, lease or purchase of city property (including real estate) and again the attorney told me that those discussions are permitted, by law, to be closed to the public. With all of the hard feelings that have been created regarding city property lately, does it make sense to keep those issues closed to the public? Doesn't it make more sense to allow those who are interested to hear what is being discussed? Wouldn't it cut down on the amount of gossip regarding special allowances and underhanded dealings if those discussions were open to all? Are you legally required to do it.....obviously the answer is no, but should you feel morally obligated to? I think so.
The Council seems to be so busy building a city that they can't see they are destroying a town. The other half of the problem lies with the townspeople themselves, myself included. We have an obligation to police our government not only at the national level but most importantly at the local level. If we all take an active part in the goings on, we can force the transparency that the city seems unwilling to offer. It needs to be up to us to watch what is going on and call the council on it.
When you have questions call them personally and ask, I did. It will apparently be up to us to get information regarding meetings and hearings out there, so if you know about an issue and it's important to you, post it on the Facebook, use social media to make a change. Gossiping and complaining doesn't do any of us any good. Call your council person and tell them we want social media updates, so that those of us with busy lives can make sure we know when meetings are and what is on the agenda, and can then make sure we are there for the discussions.
Take an active part in this government. If you feel you are repeatedly being dismissed or ignored, there are steps that can be taken to bring in state auditors and investigators, but you have to be willing to take the first steps. You can't just say "this is a problem, someone needs to take care of it." YOU are someone. I am someone. Individually we are one Drop, together we are an Ocean.
City/Town of Residence: Hamilton
E-Mail Address: firstname.lastname@example.org