Welcome All! I'm a dreamer, I hope you are too! A Posse ad Esse, or From possibility to reality, is a general state of mind. I hope you'll share your possibilities with me as I will with you. Namaste~

September 23, 2008

Democracy Works!!! (or does it?)

Well, to a point I think it does, but you know that old saying "All politics is local"? It held true tonight as I witnessed first hand the inequities of the political process.

First off, let me start on a positive note. THE GIRLS ARE LEGAL!!! That's right, the outlaw birds in my back yard are LEGAL. I started working toward getting the restrictive ordinance pertaining to chickens, and in particular egg laying hens, changed back in February. Can you believe it's been that long? I should of course for the record point out that I personally did not initiate the ordinance change. Our city planning commission was actually in the middle of revising the ordinance when I showed up on the scene, but I made it just in time to have input into the revision, and was able to get to know the commission chair Robert Whiteley that actually sponsored the change that dealt with the chickens. A very good guy! The process was very time consuming, and took a lot of emails and some public speaking, but we've gotten it finished and tonight it passed the city council by unanimous consent. So you see, don't just let your fear of the process keep you from your goals. In fact this turned out even better than hoped for. Tonight before the vote, the council proposed to up the number of legal birds to 6 rather than the proposed 5. I think this was a great move for the city, and now I'm thinking, hmmm...how about a class in (sub)urban hennery? (sorry Laura, had to steal your term.)

So now you're wondering about the (or does it?) aren't you. I you remember yesterday, I asked for you to wish me luck. That wasn't for the chicken law to pass, it was for me. I went before the city council and a nearly packed auditorium tonight, to enter my name as a candidate for a seat on the Syracuse (UT) City Council that had been prematurely vacated by one of our elected members. The laws of our city show that when a vacancy becomes available mid term, that the existing city council will hold public hearings to review potential replacement and then vote on the candidates to get a replacement. I put my hat in the ring, and didn't get it, and you know what, it's really not a big deal to me. I hoped for it, buy didn't expect it. What I didn't expect however, was that the process was rigged.

Seriously, this is not a sour grapes issue. The gentleman that got the position, I felt, was far more qualified than me or many of the other candidates so not a big deal there. The problem arose when the council was making their vote and councilman Doug Peterson, after making his vote, Made a declaration that rocked the room. He stated that when he originally ran for council he lost. Then, the same type of thing happened and he applied to the council for the position. He didn't get it, and felt that since he had been the first runner up in the election that the position should have been his. Tonight he went clearly in the face of the established process and declared that that was the reason he voted for the winner; because he was in fact the first runner up in the last election. Another councilman, Doug Hammond, agreed and went on to state that the voters had spoken and had voted for the winner in the last election. (But not in enough number for him to win.)

On the face of it, it sounds logical right? But myself and the other 20 candidates walked into a council meeting tonight, expecting to be heard and to have a fair chance at being considered for the position. That was, in point of fact, no the case. If two of the remaining 4 chairman came to the meeting already having in mind who they were going to vote for and why, (and yes, I do know that that is the case in at least one person, but cannot get into how for a couple of reasons.)
then what was the purpose of me spending my first night alone with my boys, cooped up in a stuffy city hall for no reason. Oh, I was mad!

After the election, you could here the vocal murmurings of the audience, and then the utterly ridiculous. The city council completed the city managers report and called for a motion to adjourn, with was seconded and agreed on. Only one problem, the first order of business for the night was to approve the agenda, an agenda that allowed for a period of public comment before the adjournment. Two councilman had already gotten up and started to leave and I just popped up. Not a lot of thinking, just popped up and yelled over the room "Mr. Mayor!" (ask my kids, I'm loud when I need to be.) When I got his attention, myself and the other gentleman pointed out that they cannot adjourn legally, they are breaking the agreed upon agenda. We got them back in there seats and they spent the next 20 minutes hearing from me and the other guy about how they had just committed a farce of a political proceeding and should be ashamed. It was pointed out that at the last election half the previous city council was removed for similar actions. Both myself and the other man received many handshakes and thank you's afterward for calling them on this. I guess it may be time for the other half to go too.

Let me finish this off on a positive note just so I don't come off too PO'd. I think that the process does work by in large. Look at my chooks after all, their free to roam now. The key however, as in national politics, is to be involved. Make your voice heard. We are a democratic republic and inasmuch we are required by duty to be a part of our governments process. I encourage you to participate, to debate and to be activist in the things you believe in. I ask though that we keep a level of civility, look for commonalities and work for the type of change that will benefit us all.
Be well...


Anonymous said...

Congratulations on the chickens-YEA!!!! It stinks about the process, when it goes wonky and wastes the publics time. BUT GOOD FOR YOU being educated on the City Council meeting and the agenda that let your voice be heard (public comment). And lastly ,however dishearting, it is the right thing to do to be involved locally. I need to be more so. Cheers to your victories!! tp

Bill said...

Congratulations on the now legal hens. I would love to get the process running in Riverton, maybe citing Syracuse as an example.

I try to stay up to date on City Council meetings by reading the agendas and minutes posted online. Nothing has caught my eye enough to attend a meeting but I probably should get more involved.

Anonymous said...

Good for you p, on both counts. You are absolutely right, as always, it seems. ;)

Chicago Mike said...

Well Done Sir!!

Do you need a candidate application form? I hope so!

Sadge said...

Yea for you! For the chickens, for getting into the process, for standing up and speaking your piece. Count it all a positive learning experience and please, stay active. I ran for city office for the first time this year. I lost in the Primary (I got outspent - sad to say, the system still seems to favor $$$), but at least I brought some greener ideas to the debate (and am now hearing some of my words incorporated into the platform of one of those candidates going on to the General Election). Again, kudos!

MeadowLark said...

Good on ya!
Politics as usual STINKS. I'm only just starting to make my voice heard, but have to be careful as Husband's livelihood is closely intertwined with said entity.

Joe said...

Another view from the City Council Meeting: http://www.joelevi.com/blog/index.php/2008/09/24/syracuse-city-council-citizens-report-for-09232008/

- www.JoeLevi.com

Annie said...

You should be so proud of yourself! It takes great courage to speak up and say whats on your mind especially in a room full of people. You have done so much this year....keep it up. You are an inspiration to many. I know you are to me.

Jason & Jackie said...

Yea chickens! I heard about you today at school when i was dropping my son off and again when I picked him up I have a few friends there that are fed up and are sick of the way our money is spent building waterfalls that are going to be torn down ect I think its great you stood up for us all!

P~ said...

Thanks everyone for the support. Overall, I'd say we came out ahead. I want to reiterate, that I truely do believe in our process. Is it perfect? No. It's a product of man, it can't be perfect. But if we get involved, I'm learning, we are far more able to stomach the things that don't go our way. In that case, we are no longer just subject to the whims of our leadership, we are active participants in the process and have a real chance to change things in the future.

Thanks again all, now get out there and get at it! :)

han_ysic said...

Good on you for putting your hand up. My brother has just become a councillor (I think equivalent to alderman in USA) He is only 22 but wanted to get involved and made it in. He gets inducted or whatever next Tuesday night. Now I can fulfil one of my life goals as becoming a policy advisor!

marisa said...

wow, it makes me so happy to see more cities legalizing chickens. My girls are still illegal.

Anonymous said...

Keep up the good work, in the garden and the council meetings.

Congrats about the chicks.

GarlicMan76458 on FreedomGardens.org

Sue said...

Congrat’s on the chooks! And I want to commend you on standing up at that city council meeting. I'm not sure I would have the guts to do it, but you and Levi did and that is very cool in my book.
I hope you don't mind if I ask, but do you live in a homeowners association? I ask this because you were approved to have chickens. Our home is within a homeowner's association, and it is clearly written in our by-laws that we can't have any. I'm not sure if the wording is livestock, or just keeping chickens (hens) for eggs. I would like to change this.
I do know that our city ordinance is so many hens are allowed per square feet of yard space. No Roosters and a clearance of so many feet from the fence line to all neighbors surrounding the pen. I meet the space for at least3 hens.
I am thinking of challenging our homeowner's association on this but wonder if it's just a waste of time, thus my question.
Thanks, and congrat's on your victory! Sue_wa@comcast.net

P~ said...

No, I don't live in a home owners assasination..., err, association area. That was one of my wife and I's major criterions when we purchased here. We do however have what are known as covenants and restrictions, and they can be a pain too. The title Ten change that we were able to get passed, was through our city council. They were specific to state "egg laying hens", so it protects neighbors from the annoyance of crowing roos.
I learned recently that Utah is one of only a small number of states that specifically states in it's state constitution that laws cannot be made to keep homeowners from utilizing small scale alternative energy sources. This law protects homwowners from even HOA's from limiting them. Perhaps you could lobby your city to pass some legislation to keep HOA's from banning things that otherwise imped your right to City legislated rights that other citizens would be allowed to have, i.e. chickens. It would be a backdoor to get your HOA to allow what the city allows, and only deal with things such as landscaping, cleanliness, etc. Just an idea. Good luck, let me know how it goes.

Joe said...

Update on the City Council Meeting and the Mayor's "shirking" of his duty. A reporter from the Standard-Examiner covered the City Councilmember appointment and ran a story in Saturday's paper. Very interesting stuff there!


- Joe Levi, http://www.joelevi.com/blog/index.php/2008/09/24/syracuse-mayor/