Here's a shocker: Mike Ragsdale is rightMark today down in history, folks, because something has happened today that you have never seen before on this weblog and may never see again: I find myself in full, complete, and absolute agreement with Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale.
At the swearing-in yesterday, he told the new Commissioners and others that:
"The people's faith in government has been shaken and somewhat stunned."
In this, Ragsdale is exactly right, though as Terry Frank points out, he is a fine one to talk about shaking people's faith in government.
The entire process wreaked of the sort of backroom deals that my Grandfather used to tell me about that happened in West Virginia when he was a young man. In those days, such deals were often brokered to keep local governments from collapse. People had an implicit knowledge that backroom deals were brokered, and in some cases, had an explicit knowledge of that reality. There are two key differences, though, between then and now.
The first is that back in the day, local leaders had enough respect for the people not to shut them up. People could be heard-they usually weren't listened to, but they were allowed to say their peace. Yesterday's Knox County Commission meeting hardly lived up to that standard. People who tried to state their opinion about what was happening to their government were simply told they were out of order-the same went for those brave enough to try and declare support for a particular candidate.
The second is the availability of information. The majority of people didn't care about local government before the age of information, and now that we are deep within that age, the majority still do not care, as unfortunate as that may be. However, those that do care have access to piles upon piles of information about how government works and what their rights are, and they can use the internet as a tool to fight the power. While citizens decades ago may have had little understanding of what was happening in government processes, the people at yesterday's Knox Commission meeting were energized and informed citizens-the truth cannot and should not be hidden from them.
The Commission disgraced Knox County in the eyes of the whole world and made Knoxville look like a backwater fiefdom.
Labels: Local politics