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'Get Involved'

Sunday, January 3, 2010

In a rare sight, numerous residents showed up in the Council Chambers at Brazil City Hall for a meeting of the Common Council of the City of Brazil Dec. 30. Many of Clay County's elected officials are hoping to see a similar trend of public attendance at future meetings. [Order this photo]
* Elected officials hope to see more at meetings in 2010

When in a position to make difficult decisions which affect a large number of people, it helps to have as much input as possible.

Local elected officials are hoping for exactly that in the new year.

"I hope we start having more people want to get involved," Common Council of the City of Brazil member Brad Deal told The Brazil Times recently. "There are a lot of things going on as we are trying to get the city in better shape, and while we do get questions, it would be nice to have more people provide their thoughts and input, especially at meetings."

Numerous officials told The Brazil Times a lack of attendance at public meetings has been an issue for many years, but believe if more residents came to the meetings, they would have a better understanding of what is going on.

"Residents need to get involved more on issues now, instead of waiting until something happens then voicing their opinions," Clay County Commissioner Jack Withers said.

City Council member Bill Lovett agreed that public input before final decisions have to be made would be beneficial to the entire process.

"It would help the councils, commissioners and town boards to make better informed decisions with input beforehand," he said.

Having also served on the city council for a number of years, Brazil Mayor Ann Bradshaw has seen little participation from the public since entering the world of politics in 1992.

"Every year, we have numerous discussions about the budget, and in all that time I can only remember one person ever coming and asking questions," she said. "Meetings are a great opportunity for residents with concerns to address their elected officials."

Clay County Council President Mike McCullough told The Brazil Times time is allotted in meetings for residents to air their opinions and make suggestions regarding any issue.

"When people actually attend and see what is happening, I think it makes it easier for them to understand what is going on and how things work," he said. "We all encourage public comments and everyone is given a chance to speak at our meetings, but it seems like the only time people show up is when there is a controversial topic."

While some meetings -- like the Dec. 30 city council meeting to discuss the animal contract -- attract enough residents to fill a meeting room, many times elected officials are left to themselves to make major decisions without public input.

"There is definitely not enough participation from the public," Brazil resident Barbara Martin, who regularly attends city council meetings, said. "I would like to see the room filled up with people who want to help the city improve."

McCullough added, "It would be nice to see people show up once in a while. Although about 90 percent of what we do on the county council is cut and dry -- and we don't have much flexibility as to what we can do -- the public can help by giving us information to consider on issues which may come up in the future."

Questions have risen in recent weeks regarding the time in which some meetings are conducted, but state statutes limit the options some agencies have.

"You can't please everyone," Withers said regarding the commissioners' 9 a.m., meeting time. "But if we moved our meetings to the evening, we could get complaints from those who work evening shifts and can't attend those meetings as well."

However, Martin said residents should be motivated to attend meetings to provide their opinions and complaints up front, regardless of what time the meeting may be conducted.

"Don't complain unless you come to the meetings and express your concerns and opinions," she said following the Dec. 30 city council meeting. "If people want to see something done, get down here and speak up."

Monthly meetings

The following is a list outlining the regular meeting schedules of some of the governmental agencies around Clay County.

* Clay County Commissioners -- 9 a.m., first Monday of the month, Commissioners' Courtroom, Clay County Courthouse,

* Clay County Council -- 6 p.m., first Monday of the month, Commissioners' Courtroom, Clay County Courthouse,

* Common Council of the City of Brazil -- 7 p.m., second Tuesday of the month, Council Chambers, Brazil City Hall,

* Brazil Parks and Recreation Board -- 7 p.m., first Wednesday of the month, Council Chambers, Brazil City Hall, and

* Clay Community School Board of Trustees -- 7 p.m., second Thursday of each month, North Clay Middle School (April and October meetings at Clay City Jr./Sr. High School).

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Why even go? I know for a fact of at least two previous major decisions that were both decided on before the 'official' meeting actually occurred, no matter what the public did or said or should I say only certain people are actually 'in' with the decision makers and only those are the one's they listen to. Not pointing any fingers or naming any names though.

No need for anyone to bother responding to me, arguing with me, or rebutting (including Jenny Moore/virginiagrace). As I am absolutely positive on and know for an absolute fact, that it's not actually a question where the real behind the scene's truth will actually be admitted to anyway.

Thank you. Happy New Year to all and here's to a wonderful, happy, healthy, and prosperous new year. Have a good day ;-)

-- Posted by catlady on Sun, Jan 3, 2010, at 8:44 PM


-- Posted by Dagnabbit on Mon, Jan 4, 2010, at 10:38 AM


I cannot argue with you as I have been to school board meetings MANY times over the past 14 years and nothing seems to change except that more cuts are made in academic areas and more money spent in non academic areas.

That said, like voting, we only have ourselves to blame if we quit going and making ourselves heard when we think things aren't being done correctly. Some of the chronic problems we have now have gone on so long because all thought someone else was going to fix them. One person going will assuredly change nothing, but many voices together MAY. Of course those many voices also have to go over and over again as it takes hitting one's head against a wall MANY times it seems to finally get one's point across. We many times get burned out long before then.

In addition to trying to change things we need to figure out ways to make things work best for us in a system that will always have human flaws.

-- Posted by Jenny Moore on Mon, Jan 4, 2010, at 12:07 PM

(rolls eyes)...walks back out.

-- Posted by karenmeister on Mon, Jan 4, 2010, at 12:46 PM

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