Monday, July 05, 2010

Get involved

I have written on this before, but Independence Day brings it up again.

I spoke to the Tea Party group Saturday, following a lady who suggested going to Council or County Commissioners or SAISD meetings. As a "been there done that" person, I reminded the audience, ALL these bodies are open meetings. Anyone can address them in favor of or in opposition to whatever is on the agenda, in fact if your topic is not on agenda, there is a "Public Comment" opening where any citizen can suggest a new topic for the next meeting.

Texas may still have a "redneck" image, but it is perhaps the most open state in the Union. Things that twenty years ago I would have had to take a day off, physically walk from office to office, file Freedom of Information forms and wait for the beauracracy to find a reason to deny my request: I get that now at 3:00 AM in my bathrobe and slippers: literally.

You need to look at an ordinance or city Charter? Online, two clicks of a mouse. You want Texas Statutes, same thing. You want Federal Statutes, well it may take a while to download unless you have the bill number handy, but it's there. A Supreme Court decision you heard about, it's there. Maybe you don't trust the press as it reports the new Arizona immigration statute; it's there.

Recently, San Angelo even started posting what is called the "Agenda Packet", in short, all that stuff the Councilmembers have on their laptops, you can have it too, before the meeting. It's a lot of reading, tomorrow's is 360 pages+, last week was only 297 pages, BUT if you want it, it's there. Someone, I suspect Alicia Ramirez, went in to put that up today on a holiday, it was not there yesterday.

I mentioned to our Tea Party crowd, San Angelo has at least 20 Boards and Commissions advising Council and they are all open to the public. Some of them are so seldom used they might be slightly shocked to see an actual citizen, but they will also give you a hearing, probably feel complimented someone bothered to show up!

Last but not least, check any agenda lately for Council. There are ALWAYS open spots on advisory boards. Doesn't pay anything, some of them buy you lunch, but toward bottom of agenda we always have "appointment of soandso to board xyz" which in my memory is always unanimously approved.

Don't sit and bitch, get in there and make your case. You won't always win, God knows I haven't, but if you don't play you sure won't win.

Me, in a world full of wolves, I'd rather be a shepherd than a sheep.

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