OT: Mae Beth’s First City Council Meeting

Hey, beautiful security nerds and various readers. I went to my first city council meeting this week and I wanted to write a quick testimonial as to why you, too, should start going to either your city council or county council.

Things I Learned

  1. You will find out what people in your city care about. I discovered that one, we need a new call-a-ride bus so that our older citizens or mobility-challenged citizens can get to the store, to doctor’s appointments, et cetera. 92 year old moms need to get to their appointments at the hospital, y’all. Fortunately, it looks like my city council agrees.
  2. It will quickly become evident how oh, wait, this is what #disabilityjustice is all about when you get to praxis. Pay the damn 55K for a bus that isn’t broken 20% of the time.
  3. You will discover how much “relevant to your life” legislation comes at the local level. I got bored about an hour in, but the topic wasn’t boring. The council was debating campaign finance reform at a surprisingly progressive/advanced level. The words “I hate Citizens United as much as the next person” were uttered. The city ALSO renewed a ~10K grant that local citizens and educational groups could request $500 from for different projects. They had the accepted applications in the City Council packet and they were overwhelmingly the type of project that leads to a sweet Upworthy article about, “this school got its Spanish-speaking parents involved for $500! You won’t believe how!”, that kind of thing.
  4. Discovered tools I didn’t know my town had, like the ability to schedule myself to speak at the next city council meeting if I want, or to suggest ideas to make my city better. There are also committees various council members sit on for things like environment and public safety. If you’re interested in police brutality, you might want to go to a public safety committee, as that’s often where police regulation for cities is stashed.
  5. Perspective on what laws are created by what people, even at the “local level”. Once my attention wandered from campaign finance reform, I also started looking at what aspects of my life were affected more by the town where I lived vs. the county my town is in. My city has a solid police record. My county’s police record is NOT so good. It’s probably more important to push my county on police reform rather than my small city, knowing this.
  6. Nobody goes to these things (about ten of us stayed after public comment), so if you want to start working with your city and county level politicians and getting them interested in YOUR issues, going to these meetings and talking to your councilcritters after is the easiest way to start making those connections. Just by attending and say “hi, I agree with you about sanctuary cities”, you will be known to your city councilmember better than 90% of their constituents. You will be heard, even if the council is on a different side of politics.

All in all, even if you can’t sit through a whole meeting at first, it’s worth going for a good 45 minutes, listening to public comment, and scanning the agenda, as you will learn a lot more about the local powers that control your life and if they’re hearing what you want them to hear. I want to go back and do public comment on supporting adding bikeshare to our town, along with support for the various progressive policies the city council seems to be moving forward.

Major recommend, folks.

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