In a recent meeting of newspaper executives in Birmingham, Ala., a discussion on public participation in “open meetings” was a topic which revealed a situation apparently common across the country.

So it doesn’t just happen here in Moultrie. Public meetings are poorly attended throughout the nation, it seems. About the only people who attend are the elected or appointed officials and the news media, unless of course an issue of major proportions is on the agenda — something so acute that it demands a public passion.

And so this becomes sad commentary on our appreciation and perpetuation of our democracy. We often complain about leadership, yet we fail to be a part of the process by attending a few meetings. In other words, we take our democracy for granted even while we are trying to install it in other countries at the high cost of dollars and American lives.

And yes it’s true that not all local government meetings are “exciting” by the purest definition of the word. However, so few people even understand the process of how local ordinances are made and applied and how the public’s business is conducted, any meeting could serve as a mini-seminar.

By attending meetings, one might send a message to the leadership that indeed the voters are interested. And by attending meetings, the public might offer suggestions, ask questions and most importantly, verify that the tasks of leadership are being performed to a certain standard.

Ironically, one seemingly can get more excited about the posting of the Ten Commandments in a public building than the fact that most boards meet and discuss the public’s business without any audience comprised of taxpayers and citizens.

The fact that the apathy is widespread and is not a franchise of our community should not be interpreted as a factor of comfort by any means. And if it’s the norm, then it’s a bad one.

What if you lived in a land where you were told you could not attend government meetings?

Think about it, especially in the context of what it is costing us to “spread democracy.”

React to this story:

0
0
0
0
0

Recommended for you