The King is Dead. Long Live the King!
On the same day that the NewsLeader covered the burial, they ran an online poll asking:
"Do you think city administrators and elected officials listen to public comment on local issues?"
The results were not good news to city leaders;
Total Votes: 760 Yes 17.1% No 82.9%
This bodes ill for real citizen participation in civic affairs, at least with the current administration. Thankfully, there is another form of public input coming in 2007--city elections. In this form of Public Input, the citizens cannot be ignored.
(Ed note: I've chosen to republish the Our View piece in it's entirety since the NewsLeader charges for access to past articles beyond a certain time. It's ironic a paper that consistently harps on free speech and public access to information puts commercial barriers in the way of the public. Thankfully, archiving such information is allowable as "fair use.")
From the NewsLeader:
Published February 20, 2006
OUR VIEW »
Neighborhoods best advocates for needed improvements
Residents of Springfield's Grant Beach and Woodland Heights subdivisions remain angry at the City Council for closing the Broadway Avenue railroad crossing.
Give them credit, though, for coming up with creative ways to express their anger.
Last week, they staged a mock funeral. "Public Input" was eulogized and laid to rest at the site where Broadway is now interrupted. "Neighbors question the purpose of spending time and energy providing input when they know it will be ignored," Robert Brantley said during the eulogy.
But they don't question it so much that they will retreat into the shadows. By the end of the funeral, Public Input had been reborn with a pledge that the two neighborhoods will keep working together to improve north-south routes through their area.
We hope they will. The biggest challenge facing them and the city is the inadequacy of the antiquated Grant Avenue underpass. Trucks regularly get stuck there, snarling traffic and blocking any emergency crews seeking to get from one side of the tracks to the other.
This needs to be fixed, and the best advocates for improvements will continue to be these two neighborhoods. Long live their public input.