I typed it once already, and then.. arg, now I’m typing it again. My official citizen comment (well, it’s on YouTube if you want to watch it, this is my now second typed version from my notes,) for the night:
I believe that I am a lucky person, that I have confidence that I know you all of you care about your positions with the City.
I think that citizen comments are important because it is the one place we can speak to our Council and know that they may hear us.
Some may not know, yet citizen comments were my favorite part of meetings (as I waved my folder of every citizen comment I’ve had the privilege to receive.)
I do think there are a few issues with citizen comments, some ways they could be improved and I think this City Council could do it.
Citizen comments are not very accessible-
1) They require personal attendance.
2) They require public speaking skills.
3) They are only available 2x per month.
Council could improve this in several ways. They could direct the manager to direct staff to create a public Facebook group, and manage it, removing spam while never infringing a persons rights to this new government resource, in the end I feel it would be costly, time consuming and distracting from more important business for them.
As a citizen, I feel I can solve this in a much better way, and I have. I have created, and I invite all citizens of the City of Jackson, Michigan to join, my Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1105192463774873
After my public comment, I was questioned by a gentleman in the back of the room, I’ll let him identify himself if he wishes.
He stated there was already another Facebook group created by another citizen that seemed to have the same intent. I named the group and he nodded, then I told him that I and another citizen had already been “banned” from the group. Though I could not account for the other citizen, I offered a URL if wanted to see that my behavior was unworthy of being banned from a purportedly “public” group.
I was questioned again (one of my favorite parts of council meetings, especially now being a part of it, is the migration and the “back chatter” of the crowd,) I do hope I didn’t over play my hand… However, when the Mayor announced that no one on Earth is making new land, I had to loudly exclaim “Dubai!”
The next question was how my group would be different, if I had a problem with another private citizen group owner, now as I was doing in myself (even proclaiming the group to be under my rules.)
I told him plainly, I know I cannot be an Elon Musk. He might have loved Twitter and I believe he may have wanted great things for it, yet the moment he owned it- he couldn’t be a part of it. Previously, on Twitter, everyone was equal- if they followed the rules.
And that is were it get complex in life, there are always rules to follow- sometimes, we just don’t know who is following who’s rules.
In my group, by taking ownership, I have lost it. I will not have a place where I can go and “rant” my mind. That is okay, I have my own website. By taking ownership, I have the ability to create something that I wanted- as a Citizen and as a Council member. Yet, by being the creator, I cannot have it- I must give it away and hope it comes back to me.
The meeting went well and I observed several things about how our current Mayor ran the meeting.
At one point, I offered the Council a comment during a public hearing for a street assessment. I was first denied, as I was not a property owner on the given street. However, just a moment or two later, after consulting with staff and with the apparent support of Council and the crowd, our Mayor invited me up to speak.
I think now I should have offered my comment in a “special” way, as an “expert” in some field, perhaps as an ex-council member. Then, it would have been easier for the Mayor to accept my offer for comment, while continuing a possible past practice of limiting public comments during street assessment hearings to only citizens on those given streets.
I may need to do some research to assure myself of this, yet I think perhaps all citizens are eligible to comment during any public hearing. And, I am also aware of my own list of five or six citizens that might take every opportunity to speak, even if repeating the same thing or nothing at all for as many minutes as they could keep exhaling. For them- for you- please, join my group, I do want to hear your opinions, I want to discuss them with you and maybe ask some questions. Mostly, if I respond to you, I care and I want to understand how to help you.
Later in the meeting, the Mayor again impressed me. I went again to offer a comment to a second public hearing, #3430,, and the Mayor- seeing me from across the room in the middle of his meeting, politely communicated his intent to limit further citizen comments to the ‘general’ citizens comments section of the meeting.
Speaking and seeing many, at times three people sat next to me: Peter, Nicki, and Derek.
To me, each conversation, every exchange was intense in the totality of events. From when I arrived, I was able to greet the council personally and individually, I may have missed Karen and Laura, as I was a bit early. Seated in the back I saw Peter, greeted and sat near him. Everyone seems to choose their arrangement I’ve found (from my previous view near the top,) some are more stationary at some points in the meetings as newcomers and others float about.
Then some of them and some others too, are more active and moving about later in the meeting. Interesting to me, and somewhat easier to see now, or rather easier for me to pay attention to now, is who is paying attention to what and when, then I can theorize (internally,) why.
Each person I hope to meet with again soon, minus the other one hundred people in the room. Peter is a candidate for the second ward, Nicki is a new person to me and had lot of insights. He and I spoke the most and I tried to learn as much as I could, yet my attention was divided. After a few lines of dialog (I don’t like extra ‘u’ ‘s,) I had to excuse my focus back to the meeting several times. Before I left I gave him my card and I am hoping he reaches out to me.
Derek is our former Mayor, one of my previous ballot opponents.
Sometimes, just sometimes.. I think I might apologize (see how I said ‘might’ there, as in futuristically, hypothetically, as in I’m not doing it now,) to him one day for asking pointed questions in such a way to make him say the word “regulation” so many times. Other times, I just reminisce. Until I do, I can. Some people might wonder how Derek and I get along well. I do.
There is much we have in common, one thing I learned at the end of the official mayoral ‘debate’ in 2019. At the end the dual asked questions, the MC thanked the crowd as Derek and I stood and waved and they all thanked us again. I turned and shook his hand, and we both naturally paused, each turned squarely to the crowd for whatever photographs might entail.
The brief roar of the crowd (in the Michigan theater, likely the second or third best attended Council event there,) quelling we turned back to each other. The grin on his face was ear to ear, likely mimicking my own. We had each answered well, each knowing where the other would jab and wondering where we each wouldn’t. Without a true debate, this is rather simple.
The rules state to answer the question speaking to the crowd and not to each other. Yet, if you give some people (of which both he and I qualify,) sixty seconds they can say a lot, and quite truly they can use the phrase “and other people might say” then refute (or worse, in doing so imply they’re refuting you,) as they give their list of objections.
The determining factor is often the coin flip. Who will answer first on any question, who must respond (while not responding?) As the night went at times I was glad to be in either position. Often when I went first, I did not know how ‘barbed’ to be in my answer- the small things, the innuendos that would allude to the next things that might be brought up. Answering, and being respectful… and adversarial.
A long drawn out handshake and we both started to chuckle on the 14th pump or so. I cracked my smile first and asked “Okay, so do we just walk off stage now?”
I remember him saying “I don’t know..” then, perhaps I faded off in the moment wondering if that was the question I should have side-asked during the debate. Next, I think he might have said “this is my first time too” or something else, I can feel my mind trying to fill in a blank there, likely I really was thinking if that was the magic question.
Some people come to that answer naturally. Others resist it at all cost.
I was up at seven thirty and felt well rested (in bed right at twelve,) downstairs then back up for pills at eight thirty. I was going to skip the Vyvanse today, however I remembered the Council meeting. (Oh, gosh, this go-go pill would be such an enhancement there with a microphone.) And thought that one more day of productivity could be good.
I got the first item off the college list, I filled out the fafsa. I qualify for $3,345 in federal pell grant, and could take a federal direct loan up to $9,500. I suppose, this would be a way to pay my mortgage. I would have to enroll at least half time. However, why not just do it? Pay the mortgage up, cash a few insurance checks and go to school full time.
And maybe, with the news I heard near the end of my night (well, now a few hours ago,) there is vacancy in the fifth ward.
That makes me think, it makes me feel like I wish there was a way to serve in that roll, as a fill-in, at-large. That is not what the charter says though, however I truly believe the fifth ward deserves better than it has received in some time. That is not to say a thing about the current situation, as of now I have not even verified what I have been told.
College, tomorrow I fill out the online application, then the orientation should be quick to follow. I suppose this was my own (extended,) citizen comment for the night (after I grabbed two beers from the party store on my way home,) well, four actually, depending on how you measure. As such, this I will cross post into the new group for public discussion.
I am genuinely interested to hear opinions especially on the “citizen comments” portion… and the rest, well… this is just a little bit of me.
Time to rest.