If you follow this blog, you know that citizen engagement is our focus and the system won't change until the people change it. Whether you agree or disagree with the cuts that were made to Fire & Police, what Chett describes below as he's talking to our elected leaders is profound. I was not there when he spoke, I have not seen and cannot verify that any of the council members were being disrespectful but having been up to the city council many times and experiencing the same things he describes, I felt his pain and was glad to see somebody call them out.
The citizens when not referring to a specific issue get to speak at the end of the meeting about anything they want to. Sounds great on paper but when you experience it you realize they put this at the end of the meeting because they don't really care what you think. Some of them (REID HEDGEPETH) are never there(OK so maybe he is there sometimes, I have yet to see it) and leave immediately when the agenda is done or sometimes before, others will be talking on the phone as you are speaking or will be speaking to other council members while you are speaking. It's very inconsiderate and disrespectful. I will be on a mission in the future to catch on camera the council members that do this. Chett righfully calls out the media for not being there when the citizens speak. As far as I am concerned, this should be the most important part of the meeting.
If more and more citizens were involved in the system, as they should be, these guys wouldn't get away with this behavior for long. There is an election next year. Perhaps Chett should think about running...
These chambers need to be packed every time the doors open. Voting is the LEAST of your civic duties if you want to maintain a successful republic and I remind people all the time, we are a REPUBLIC and not a democracy. "Democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where 51% of the people may take away the rights of the other 49%." Some people attribute that quote to Thomas Jefferson but no one knows for sure who said it. The important thing about a republic is, the people can turn out of office, the leaders who voted to make these cuts.
Memphis doesn't have their priorities in order and it's up to the people to change that. When Benjamin Franklin walked out of the constitutional convention and answered Mrs. Powell who had asked the question "What kind of government did you give us a sir?"...he replied..."A republic madam, if YOU can keep it!"...Not your leaders, not the media, NOT THE PARTIES...but YOU. He was insinuating that keeping the republic would be a hard thing and truer words were never spoken. You can't keep the republic by not knowing your leaders personally and never attending the meetings. Everyone knows everything about their favorite sports team or celebrity...what do you know about the people who govern over you? They have more of an effect on you than who won last years Super Bowl or Heisman Trophy. If you were involved, the city probably wouldn't be spending 60 something millions dollars to revitalize the Raleigh Springs Mall or like yesterdays vote 275,000 on the "Urban Art Plan". All of these projects add up and we should only be spending taxpayer money on essential services. I challenge you to set aside time to attend your local meetings. If you want change....it starts with YOU!