ORIGINALLY WRITTEN SCOTT NUSS
Like many of you, I’ve been glued to the TV lately. I’ve just been stunned by everything that’s happened with Hurricane Katrina.
To me, it’s just amazing what Mother Nature can throw together if she feels like it. What’s even more amazing to me is how our country can come together to help the people effected by the storm.
On a completely different note, I’m also amazed at how little things on the local-government level can raise huge amounts of chaos.
Honestly, my last memory of Hillsboro before I left for college was how many little arguments were going on within our local government.
I am basing this article largely on what I have read in the articles this newspaper has run about Hillsboro City Council meetings. I will admit that I have not been to one of our city council meetings, but I trust that the information I’m reading is accurate.
Hillsboro is governed by a council-manager form of government. Last year in a class on state and local government, I learned that in this type of governmental system, a city administrator is hired and fired by the city council. The administrator is to be directly responsible to his or her city council.
The mayor, essentially, has very little power. In most cases the mayor will set the agenda, but his or her vote is no more powerful than any of the council members. In our case, the mayor only votes in case of a tie.
It seems to me that in Hillsboro, this form of government has been taken to an extreme level. Our city administrator seems to have every bit of the power, and the mayor has, essentially, very little power.
The city council seems to be whom the administrator refers people to so he isn’t always under the spotlight. Often it takes several attempts for the average citizen to get our city administrator on the phone.
What’s more, it is often very difficult for a given person to get on the agenda for a city council meeting.
Is this really how an effective city government is supposed to work? Are kids with creative ideas supposed to be chewed out in a city council meeting simply for trying to promote his or her idea?
Is it really right for people with the right last name to be able to have so much say in what our city government does?
Is it just me, or should the taxpayers have had the opportunity to vote on the location of the new “aquatic center” for which they will be paying?
I would like to suggest to any of our city officials who may be reading this, that you remember that you represent the roughly 3,000 citizens of Hillsboro.
I’ve served on numerous committees throughout my high school and college career. I know that decisions made may not always be in my best interest, but they are most often in the best interest of the organization involved.
I am not going to call for the resignation of any of our city officials, as some have suggested. That seems to be what happens too often in small towns like ours.
Too often we don’t like somebdy because they didn’t bend the rules, so we could have our way, or a teacher didn’t teach the way our son or daughter wanted to be taught, so we rally to fire that person.
That’s simply wrong.
There’s this word I’ve learned to appreciate in life. That word is “cooperation.” It is important in absolutely every aspect of life. The city has to cooperate with its citizens, and vice versa. Everybody has to pull their own weight to make everything work.
Despite what I’ve written, I still think Hillsboro is a wonderful place to live. All we really need is a little more cooperation.
As citizens, it is our job and our responsibility to attend council meetings and get involved with our government, especially if we have an issue that needs to be resolved. Simply talking about it on the streets and waiting for somebody to do something isn’t going to help.
By the same token, city administrator and city council members, it is your job to work with those who put you in that office. Cooperate with your constituents. Hear them out, and don’t rush to judgment.
After all, they are the ones who put you there, and in all actuality, they can be the ones to take you out. Show them you really care.
It’s just like my state and local government teacher kept emphasizing: “At the local level, it’s all about cooperation.”