How many people actually pay much attention to local governments’ detailed decisions about zoning, funding streets and sewers, and so forth? Hardly anyone pays attention – except those who have a direct financial stake in those decisions, such as real estate developers and other persons who have direct financial interests in local governments’ decisions.
So what happens as a result? The “special interests” are able to exploit local governments to serve their narrow economic profits, while the rest of us never know that we are being ripped off.
For example, the local elites that run many local governments and media keep urging “growth” so more people will move here. Let’s recognize that not all “growth” is good. (Remember that cancer is a “growth.”) We need to distinguish between “growth” that is good for the overall community and “growth” that imposes burdens and costs up-on us.
If we want real democracy, we have to get involved in making the decisions about public policy, at the national, state and local levels. Otherwise, the “special interests” will shape the decisions to make money for themselves, at our expense. As a result, they will rip us off, degrade our environment, and corrupt our governments.
The Olympia Fellowship of Reconciliation’s January 2013 TV program helps us understand some basic principles related to local government decision-making so the viewers will be better able to protect the broad public interest. We also discuss a few local case studies, such as the proposed Olympia conference center that an aroused public stopped, and Olympia’s Isthmus, which the public wants to turn into a public park.
Our guests are Walt Jorgensen, who served on the Tumwater City Council, and Bob Jacobs, a former mayor of Olympia. Both Walt and Bob continue to volunteer actively as positive forces for local governments to be ethical and responsive to the broad public interest. Both work to protect the public’s financial and environmental needs. They are active with our local Carnegie Group, which we discuss near the end of the TV program.