To the Editor,
In the past 3 years, I think I have attended about 3 City Council meetings. In all the 25 years that I’ve lived in Cranston, I’ve probably attended 5 meetings. But I …
To the Editor,
In the past 3 years, I think I have attended about 3 City Council meetings. In all the 25 years that I’ve lived in Cranston, I’ve probably attended 5 meetings. But I recently attended two Council meetings which have opened my eyes to two important realizations.
One realization is that the discussions and votes that take place at the Council meetings are of more significance to me than I had typically given them credit for. I get pretty passionate about world and national issues, but the truth is that local issues are the ones that are more likely to actually impact my daily life. That is such an obvious and common sense observation that I am a little ashamed to have ignored it for so many years. But such is life - we devote a lot of time to work, careers, family, friends, recreation, etc. and sometimes we are so obsessed with the “big picture” that we lose sight of what’s right in front of us.
The second realization is that we have a City Council that works really well. That doesn’t mean that I support or agree with everything each member thinks or says, or how each member votes. It’s not even necessarily a comment about the individuals who currently serve on the Council (but more about that in a minute), as it is about the rules and procedures that they agree to abide by as they debate and discuss issues and represent the views of their constituents. That system of rules and procedure works really well at helping people with different viewpoints understand one another, find common ground, make compromises, and achieve consensus as to the best courses of action for our city.
But a system can be abused, exploited, or completely destroyed if the people who use it fail to respect it or ignore its intent. I am happy to say that, as a result of sitting in on these two recent meetings, I felt reassured that the people currently sitting in those seats on the Council take their responsibilities seriously and have great respect for the system that I described above. I listened, as a discussion unfolded, and observed how each individual Council member’s opinions, suggestions, and concerns were met by others - sometimes in agreement, sometimes in opposition - but all moving the discussion forward by listening with respect and working toward a deeper understanding of the underlying questions.
In this moment in our history when people with big bull-horns proclaim that “government is broken,” it’s every citizen’s duty to make sure that is not the case. By attending these recent meetings, I realized that I had been neglecting my duty. If you can, I highly recommend that you attend a Council meeting. Is it the most excitement you can get on a Monday night? Probably not. But you’ll thank yourself for going. And be sure to thank your Council members, too, for their hard work and commitment!