Where is public at Citizen’s Corner?
FROM: ALAN REASIN CONOWINGO
On Dec. 4, 2010, I proposed in a letter to the Cecil Whig editor that in order to improve county government transparency a town hall-type meeting might be held one hour prior to the commissioners’ legislative meeting. I had talked to then-Commissioner Robert Hodge about this proposal and Commissioner Diana Broomell proposed the establishment of what became Citizen’s Corner.
While I am proud that Cecil County government established a forum where citizens can interact with the commissioners and now the council representatives, I have watched over these almost six years Cecil County citizens ignore this opportunity to question our local government’s representatives and receive a reply — something that is not allowed for citizens during the legislative or working session. Many times I have been the only citizen at the Citizen’s Corner meetings. Yes, when animal control and home sprinkler issues have been on the agenda, many citizens attend the Citizen’s Corner meeting, however, government doesn’t exist to just address hot issues; the mundane issues of government can set the tone and basis for important decisions that may affect us all.
Thus, the council has voted to change the Citizen’s Corner meeting to be held only on the first Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m. While I understand why this was done, I am disappointed that Cecil County citizens, as with most Americans, complain about government, but when given the chance to make a difference are not interested. There are few venues offered by all levels of government that give the citizen a chance to question the decisions and the methodology used to arrived at them by our government representatives.
Thomas Jefferson said, “The government you elect is government you deserve.” H.L. Mencken improved it by saying, “People deserve the government they get, and they deserve to get it good and hard.”