When a city council member announces to a crowd of citizens that their presence in the chambers is a privilege, not a right, you know that democracy is truly dead in your city.
This has been supposed for a while. There have been accusations of corruption and collusion. Anger and frustration among the citizenry is high. There have been times where I have felt badly for those sitting behind the council desk. They are, after all, human beings with feelings and sensibilities and families to go home to.
As of today, I have run out of compassion and sorrow for the anger and frustration that they face from the public.
The public is weary of the charade of democracy. For over a year, so many have been going to council meetings, hoping to make some kind of argument, using facts, reason and emotions to break through the stone wall city council has erected around themselves. They continually provoke the citizenry to anger, frustrating them at every turn, and then seek to blame the citizens for their anger and frustration.
The council has not once tried to establish any kind of meaningful conversation with the community. Rather, they have continued to allow the charade of the “privilege” of attending city council meetings where, once a month, citizens are offered the opportunity to speak before the council – but it’s always a one way conversation. No response, no engagement. Nothing meaningful.
All the while, our leaders continue to dine with and engage with the very people and organizations who plan to ruin our community for at least the next three generations. Those, I’m sure, are collaborative conversations. But I can only be sure from a place of imagination.
This is our reality: it is a right of a corporation to meet with the city council and to be engaged in two-way conversations; but it is a privilege that city council grants, as a parent to a child, the public the opportunity to speak for three minutes each to them, in what is only a one-way conversation.
There is no democracy in this town. If anyone believes that electing politicians before public servants is a good idea, let them learn from our experience in this little town on the Salish Sea.