Citizen involvement should be welcomed at meetings

Today’s political climate has garnered at least one good aspect for society among a whole slew of negatives.

People, including a lot of my friends and family, have started watching the national scene. As a side note, this could make for some interesting Thanksgiving gatherings. Even though it spikes their blood pressure and yes, their ears get red, they are consuming information.

This is important. This is good. I am hopeful it will create more votes at the ballot box at all elections. Also I am hopeful the many opinions that are shared around the coffee tables in our local cafes will generate more people at governmental entity gatherings on the local scene.

Public input is highly under-rated by many of our elected leaders. It is always refreshing when individuals fill the galleries at meetings of the city council, school board and other organizations. It is a learning situation for both officials and citizens on the process for the regular folk to become heard and involved. There is a certain procedure that should be followed so all can be heard on whatever topic. However, the officials who are carrying on the business of the group may only listen, ask questions and not actually provide any legal action. Citizens should not expect their leaders to jump at any request because the leaders will probably need to research the scenario, request or news before they respond with official words.

This brings up another point of citizens being allowed to give opinions and knowledge to their leaders. There is a standard across all governmental entities that to pass an ordinance or law, there should be three readings of the ordinance. Evidently there are no stipulations to the amount of time that should pass between the readings. The spirit of the rule is to allow for citizens to make their voices heard to the officials before the action becomes law. I totally understand there are instances when there are time restraints due to the lack of regular meetings of certain groups. In other words, most ordinances cannot languish through three months of meetings. However there are certain groups who never let an ordinance go through several meetings and while the leaders may not realize how that stifles citizen input; it truly does.

So what is this all building up to for you my valued and loyal NNL reader? We all have another fantastic opportunity to learn more about Missouri’s Sunshine Law. And I’m giving a plug for the event that is nearly a month out for you to get on your calendar.

The MU Extension groups from Nodaway, Atchison and Holt Counties are hosting an event at three different locations in November and December for all of us to learn more about this important law in our nation’s democracy.

Here’s the lineup.

The first meeting will be held at 6 pm, Monday, November 18 at the Nodaway County Administration Center, while the second will be in Rock Port at the Velma Houts Building at 10 am, Wednesday, December 4. The third meeting will be held in Oregon at the Holt County Extension Office at 1 pm, Thursday, December 5. 

I recommend we attend any or all of them as we can never learn too much about how our government serves us best.