We attend a great many public meetings. In fact, our calendar each month is dotted with the regular ones, then just about filled in with called ones. It is our job.
Public meetings of government officials are, by law, open to the public. Decisions made and items discussed in these meetings are done so in the open. They are transparent, sans executive sessions, the results of which are to be announced when the meeting is opened back up–even when no action was taken.
Public includes everybody, anybody who has a stake in what elected–and some appointed– boards are deciding. No one is excluded. Everyone has a right to be in attendance and to see and hear the decisions made. Much of the time, public input is encouraged and allowed, though meetings called ‘public hearings’ are where most input is sought after on particular issues. Furthermore, your elected officials are available through a wide variety of communication tools.
So, we get more than a little discouraged when few members of the public bother to attend monthly meetings. I’ve even been to many public meetings when not one person showed up other than the media, the elected officials, the board attorney and the clerk recording the minutes. I have also been to meetings when the board room was packed so tightly, not another person could fit. But, those are few and far between and usually only happen when a highly divisive issue is being decided. (Remember when Canadian National was removing the railroad crossing at Seventh Street in Wesson?) Yet, folks complain to us about what goes in some of these meetings.
Somebody once said that if you are qualified to vote and don’t, then you have no right to complain about government. I’ll further that by saying if you are complaining about decisions made in public meetings, and you don’t care enough to be engaged with those you elected, then what good is voting?
Become engaged for the long term with your public officials, not just during an election year. We hired them to do a job for us when we cast our ballot. But, the responsibility to remain informed lies with us. We publish a list of monthly meetings on this page most every week. Log them into your smart phone and set a monthly reminder.