Peter Grossetti wrote:Yep, I was there. I reiterate ... "Still not a "peep" out of City Hall."
(I am not in the habit of posting things just to hear myself talk.)
With all the discussion going on on the Deck regarding the Best Posts of 2011, this thread is the one most mentioned, largely because of your diligence in keeping people informed.
I am in agreement with you that Councilwoman Smith and Mayor Summers going to visit the chickens means only that. It isn't Monique who needs convincing. It is our system of government that needs enforcing.
I said before that though it's legal and proper etc to approach the mayor and ask for his special monarchal dispensation of ordinances--- the best chance anybody has to change anything is to use the regular system as it stands.
The chicken people have more than done their homework, they deserve their day in court, in public, before the Council, to make their case. Our Council people cannot be held accountable if all meetings are held on the phone, at the Root, in the car, between two people.
If a city having chickens does not lower property values, and does not frighten prospective residents, in fact, convinces prospective residents that the city in question is a progressive and green city, and there is proof of that, that should be presented to the public, at a Council meeting, where questions can be asked, opinions and facts clarified. You should make sure that this is covered by the media, and you should be diligent about getting this message out. (As you know, with the Lakewood Observer, you ARE the media. Make sure you report on what's happening.)
The issue has been raised here about what our elected officials are supposed to do, act upon their own opinions, or the will of the people. A simple job description provides the answer. They are supposed to be our representatives. It sounds like Monique Smith doesn't like chickens. It sounds like she might live on a Lakewood street where all she can picture is rowdy neighbors letting chickens and children run rampant.
Hens in Lakewood can guarantee that there is a high standard that has to be met for any resident to qualify for raising chickens. And they aren't re-inventing the wheel. They have research, they have proof, from cities similar to our own.
If Monique has to be convinced, or Council President Madigan, it is no more than the work that has to be done to convince ANY Lakewood resident. Assume that they are REPRESENTING those who don't want chickens, and they have fear and prejudices, or maybe real family history or experiences in Lakewood that justify their not wanting them. Those are the people that must be won over. Those are the people who might think that a pilot program approved by the mayor only is going behind their back and trying to sneak up on them. Even though it is legal to call upon Mayor's special privileges, and from what I have been hearing, Hens in Lakewood were encouraged to do so.
The best hope you guys have, regardless of whether the mayor is sincere or not, and I have no reason to think that he is not (though I continue to wonder about the "other issues" that Monique referred to in her original post in this thread*) is to convince the public, in the forum created for that, a public Council meeting. If each and every concern is addressed, and you prove that there is NO REASON to disapprove of chickens in Lakewood, IN PUBLIC, you can get somewhere. Then you can ask those representatives if they are representing their constituents. It is their job to research issues FOR their constituents and present them with the facts. It is then their job to represent the people of Lakewood, and their opinions.
If they say that they are representing them, or they seem unwilling to share the facts with their constituents, then you have to do even more outreach. You have to go to the wards that you feel are not being represented, or that are in the dark about the true facts, and educate them and encourage them to let their representatives know how they feel. If their representative refuse to represent the public, then you start a petition. And of course, you run some candidates for Council next time around who will do a better job of communicating with, and representing the public.
So much work. But in the end, the city is educated, the city is involved in the process, WITH YOUR HELP. And you guys have done more than educate the citizens of Lakewood about chickens or bring chickens to Lakewood. You have helped to empower the citizens of Lakewood, and educate them about the fact that they ARE citizens, and that they need to stay informed, it is THEIR city (our city) and they need to vote. Getting people to know about chickens, and talk about chickens, is a first step to people talking about everything, and realizing the power to have the kind of city they want is in their hands.
What an amazing public service you could do.
People can't have opinions or voice them, if they don't know what's happening. That's why communication is an essential part of representation.
And Peter, you've taken everyone a long way on this.
So my question to you now, as the year winds down, is, what IS happening? What's the plan, and are there several, to take this idea forward?
Monique Smith wrote:
It breaks my heart to say this, because I once publicly supported the campaign of our current mayor and genuinely believed he would bring a very beneficial management style to city hall, but here's the thing: The mayor and some members of his administration are showing increasingly worrisome signs that they have no regard for council or some members of the public in Lakewood who may have opinions that differ from theirs. This backyard hen question is only one example in a pattern that I've been observing and have been worrying quite a bit about.