Basic civic engagement

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, October 17, 2018, 8:47 PM | comments: 1

While I'm generally frustrated with the lack of engagement among voters, and the fact that we don't send anywhere near our best people to Washington, I think I'm ten times as frustrated with people who can't commit to even the most basic civic engagement at the local level. I can see how you might feel that you don't have any influence at the national level (and you're wrong, and that's why we have asshats there), but the impact on your life at the local level is visible and quantifiable.

It really starts with knowing what you're a part of. You probably live in a municipality or an unincorporated area in a county, and so you have elected leaders and issues maintaining your roads and providing your police and fire. They have budgets and zoning and taxes, and you should understand what those are. I happen to live in an unincorporated area, so we're in a county jurisdiction, and I'm shocked at how few people understand that the city in their address is little more than the zip code. Heck, we're eight miles from the city that shares our zip code. I don't think knowing who you elect and who you pay your taxes to is a particularly high bar to expect.

There are other taxing districts that you live in, chief among them a school district. Do you know where their revenue comes from? Do you know how they decide to build schools and fund them? In a lot of ways, these issues may affect your property value even more than municipal concerns, because crappy schools lead to crappy property values.

Right now I'm thinking largely about our HOA, which is like a mini-government that has jurisdiction over your neighborhood. Some people don't like HOA's, but I do because they hold your neighbors accountable to certain standards, and in our case, it cuts your grass so you never have that one lot on the street that looks abandoned. It means you can share a pool and other common areas. You should care about those things.

I don't think basic civic engagement is a high bar to hit as a member of a community. Know where you live, who's in charge, what's going on.

Comments

Michael Vernon Freeze, October 17, 2018, 9:10 PM #

Good post!

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