Editor’s Column: It’s time to learn (or relearn) civics

I blew it last week. I neglected to explain the parameters of a “workshop” meeting—which is a public

Niki Turner
meeting, but one not open to public comment or questions and answers. I knew this, but only because someone explained it to me in a meeting once upon a time. How is it that we think we understand the intricacies of our federal government and yet we don’t even understand the workings of our local town and county boards? I’ve watched enough new board members struggle through their first meetings like kids learning to ride a bike without training wheels to know it’s not just the lost fruit of a civics class I ditched in high school, it’s a problem for the average American citizen. So whose responsibility is it to inform the populace? It would be easy to point fingers, but when it comes down to it, it’s our individual responsibility as citizens to inform ourselves. When it comes to being informed about what’s going on in our local governments, we really don’t have an excuse for ignorance. Want to know what’s going on and how things work? It’s easy: 1) Attend public meetings and work sessions and read what’s on the agenda (printed in the paper) beforehand. 2) Check websites. If the info you’re looking for isn’t available, use that “contact” button and request it. 3) Call, email or track down your elected officials and ask questions you can’t find answers to. Does that take effort? Yes. Is it worth it? Yes. Is it our right, duty and responsibility? Yes. By Niki Turner niki@theheraldtimes.com I blew it last week. I neglected to explain the parameters of a “workshop” meeting—which is a public meeting, but one not open to public comment or questions and answers. I knew this, but only because someone explained it to me in a meeting once upon a time. How is it that we think we understand the intricacies of our federal government and yet we don’t even understand the workings of our local town and county boards? I’ve watched enough new board members struggle through their first meetings like kids learning to ride a bike without training wheels to know it’s not just the lost fruit of a civics class I ditched in high school, it’s a problem for the average American citizen. So whose responsibility is it to inform the populace? It would be easy to point fingers, but when it comes down to it, it’s our individual responsibility as citizens to inform ourselves. When it comes to being informed about what’s going on in our local governments, we really don’t have an excuse for ignorance. Want to know what’s going on and how things work? It’s easy: 1) Attend public meetings and work sessions and read what’s on the agenda (printed in the paper) beforehand. 2) Check websites. If the info you’re looking for isn’t available, use that “contact” button and request it. 3) Call, email or track down your elected officials and ask questions you can’t find answers to. Does that take effort? Yes. Is it worth it? Yes. Is it our right, duty and responsibility? Yes.