The above is a photo of our city hall. It's not a stock photo that I snagged free online, it's the real deal. I've been inside to the information desk many times for many different reasons. Tim has spent a lot of time this past year in the building permits department both scheduling inspectors and asking questions and all sorts of construction related stuff.
But I think the bulk of the time I have spent in this building is at various City Hall Meetings, usually just as an audience member, learning new stuff. I love learning new stuff and when it's about the place we live, yes, I absolutely want to be, "in the know" as they say. But I have also been a speaker at some of these meetings. No, seriously, I have!
Our government is "of the people, by the people, for the people," right? Well, heck, I'm people! That makes me part of the government in a way. Cool.
I was there recently as one of many speakers because I had a thing or two to say. I love that we, the residents of this city, have a time and place provided to say what's on our minds, to express any concerns that we have, to our City Officials.
Nobody is required to attend these meetings, nor are they required to speak at them. We could all just keep going along, accepting everything as given and then grouse about it privately. But I prefer to speak. Especially since there is a system in place to do so.
It is a little intimidating the first time. To say otherwise would not only be silly but an outright lie and of the many things that I am, a liar is not one of them. But this time, I signed right up to speak as soon as I entered the room, then I found a comfy seat. When my name was called, I stepped up to the microphone with no hesitation. I thanked the City Council, straight off, for allowing me the opportunity to speak. Then I said my piece. When I was finished (ahead of the time allowed by the way) I thanked them, and resumed my seat. No heart palpitations, no stuttering, no sweating, just said what I needed to say and moved on. They thanked me, by the way. They are very polite :)
The matter at hand, the concern I should say, for the residents of our street, is that during season (which is now) there is a great deal of traffic on our road, most of it far too fast and most of them blowing through stop signs as if they didn't exist and, because they are rubbernecking the pretty views, often driving erratically. All of this makes for a dangerous road. Dangerous for everyone, but especially for pedestrians as we have no sidewalks. We don't even have shoulders to to road. We just carefully walk down the street and when cars come by, we step up onto lawns or driveways whenever possible. It's not ideal.
Long time readers of my blog might recall that way way back in 2017 a group of Bayshore Dr folks (that's the name of our road) attended a similar meeting with a similar request. And that's where the stop signs came from. The City Council meant well. It was a kindly intended solution. But sadly, it only works if people obey the stop signs. And mostly, they do not.
After the meeting was over and I was back home doing housey stuff, I got to thinking, and as is my fashion, over thinking, and wondering if I sounded like an idiot up there. Did I speak clearly? Did I talk too fast (I do tend to do that) Did I mumble? And what did I look like? Did I make strange faces? Did I make eye contact? Did I gesture wildly? It's not just what you say, after all, it's also how you say it!
Then I remembered that our city records the meetings! AHA! So I went online and looked it up, found it and watched/listened to the entire meeting. Turns out that I spoke clearly 90% of the time, made my points fairly concisely but was a little twitchy. Dang. Oh well, I have always been an animated speaker. Read that as "talks with her hands" BUT I was making a concentrated effort to not flail about as I spoke. I absolutely did not flail. I did twitch a bit though. yikes. Gotta work on that.
Still the message was sent out and my words were apparently good enough that I was quoted (along with the other speakers of course!), multiple times, in a newspaper article (front page! below the fold) the next day. Okay. Not bad.
I have no idea if what we have said has made a big enough impression or not. Time will tell. I know nothing will happen this year. The budget has already been established. But maybe in the near future? Perhaps? Who knows?
It's not like Santa Claus where you ask the jolly red fellow for a Malibu Barbie and one shows up under the tree for you after all. But sometimes, what we've said makes enough sense to enough people, that an effort will be made to help resolve the situation. And in the meantime, I did my part.
It's a pretty good system.
At one time, long ago and far away, my dad was the Mayor of his City. He did a great job and maybe lit the little spark that helps me shine now and again, when I feel like I have something that needs to, not only be said, but also be heard. Just so you know, I felt heard.
If for some inexplicable reason, you wish to watch me talk and twitch at this meeting the link is here. My big mouth starts yapping at the 20:44 mark.
City Council on 2023-03-28 9:00 AM
Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.