I’m a city councilmember in America; ask me anything

After another long, fog-filled hiatus, Councilmanic is back, with a new sense of purpose, a new look, and a new web address.

Not to mention a new mission: to demystify local government by answering your direct questions. It’s a consumer- no, call it a citizen-affairs column.* Part of the problem I’ve had, precisely because I know so much about local government, is figuring out what it is that citizens don’t know, and what they’d like to know.

I’ll prioritize Bloomington, Indiana (where I serve), but I’d be happy to take a crack at questions about municipal governments elsewhere. Send me your questions to ama AT councilmanic DOT us and let’s see if we can’t make local government make more sense together.

*A footnote on “consumer” vs. “citizen,” from James Howard Kunstler. His full 2004 TED talk on America’s pathological problem with its cities is worth watching (nay, I declare to be required watching for readers of this blog), but the one-minute excerpt beginning at 18:52 (linked below) that closes his talk is a good sort of values statement for this blog.

“Life in the mid-21st century is going to be about living locally. Be prepared to be good neighbors. Be prepared to find vocations that make you useful to your neighbors and to your fellow citizens.

“One final thing. I’ve been very disturbed about this for years, but I think it’s particularly important for this audience. Please, please, stop referring to yourselves as “consumers.” Okay? Consumers are different than “citizens.” Consumers do not have obligations, responsibilities and duties to their fellow human beings. And as long as you’re using that word “consumer” in the public discussion, you will be degrading the quality of the discussion we’re having, and we’re gonna continue being clueless going into this very difficult future that we face.

“So thank you very much. Please go out and do what you can to make this a land full of places that are worth caring about, and a nation that will be worth defending.”

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