“Governments are from Saturn, Citizens are from Jupiter” (but is the Lakewood City Council even in this galaxy?) is the title (not the Lakewood part) of a paper (June, 1998) written by Richard Yukubousky, Executive Director of the Municipal Research & Services Center of Washington (MRSC).
Subtitled “Strategies for Reconnecting Citizens and Government” it would be a good read for our elected representatives given the proclamation at the City Council meeting of Sept. 6 declaring the month of September 2011 as National Literacy Month.
“Government officials are frequently accused of imposing their will on that of individual property owners and citizens,” writes Yukubousky. “Local officials are not elected to impose their will on others. Instead, local officials initially gain legitimacy because citizens of the community have elected them, believing that they will represent their interests. Local officials maintain legitimacy to the extent that they maintain open, honest lines of communication, provide opportunities for citizens with diverse viewpoints to be heard, work with the community to develop a shared vision and agreed upon goals, and then follow those goals.”
The final nail in the coffin? “As long as they follow those goals, which represent the will of the people, they maintain the right to make decisions for the community.”
I’m not sure Yukubousky is on this planet either because what he is espousing ain’t how it’s working where we come from.
This current election cycle in Lakewood resulted in all candidates running unopposed. Thus, as one of our retiring council members described it, there are to be no “vigorous elections where the candidates tell the truth and share different views about values and tactics.”
No signs, no debates, no campaigning or explaining so that their voice could be heard to earn our vote.
And now when we as citizens want our voice heard in order to have our elected representatives vote in a representative manner, well, we may have called the wrong number.
How would the epic US Apollo 13 moon flight have ended differently had this been the phone conversation April 14, 1970?
John Swigert, Jr.: “Okay, Houston, we’ve had a problem here.”
Wrong number: “Say again please.”
James Lovell: “We’ve had a main B bus undervolt.”
Wrong number: “Probably should take that bus into the shop pretty soon.”
After yet after another rally (the third) Sept.6; a total of nearly 100 residents stepping up to the microphone; two resolutions by the Tillicum neighborhood; hundreds of pages of articles, letters, and comments – all to register the neighborhood’s united opposition to the relocation of Camp Murray’s gate over a two-year period when we have better things to do, and need to abort this flight and return home, we hear what amounts to this: “Please enjoy the music while your party is being reached.”
Is this what Yukubousky had in mind?
“Citizens have become alienated as they feel less able to influence the political process. Many share the wide-spread perception that special interest groups and those with money control public policy decisions.”
Enter Camp Murray.
WMD, which also has reference to Weapons of Mass Destruction, stands for the Washington Military Department, the home of the National Guard, Tillicum’s not-so-friendly neighbor. This Emergency Management Division has emerged as not only the special interest group but it has also managed to provide the money that is controlling the public policy decision of gate relocation.
Only 34 percent believe they have a real say in government, according to a “Mood of Washington” poll as cited by Yukubousky. Even worse, just 23 percent believe their elected representatives actually are looking out for the interests of the public, suggestive of the reason why government is perceived as a foreign occupying power.
The Apollo 13 moon flight was aborted. Houston heard.
When will Lakewood?