Ever since the beginning of the ongoing Recreation Department fiasco, I’ve wondered why the mayor is not following through with his campaign promises, specifically, transparency through District Specific Townhall meetings with live TV and online questions and answer sessions.
During his campaign “we”, the campaign strategists, pundits, and volunteers, all agreed, along with strong agreement from all three candidates that their administration should do much more in the way of speaking with residents regarding their specific concerns. District meetings would be one way to personally speak with residents to learn more of their personal area problems. Plus, they would have the time to explain and better inform residents in greater detail than what normally would be available at a council meeting what their Government was doing to curtail these and other problems.
For those unable to attend these meetings, it was decided that, with the help of my expertise, meetings would be broadcast LIVE on TV and simultaneously online on the township’s website where residents could watch, listen, and call-in via telephone to ask questions.
Though I am not an employee of Enlacosa Video Productions and am not involved in the township’s television productions, I had hoped that it would not stop the mayor from moving forward with “our” idea. Admittedly, Mayor White was skeptical of using the “live” format during his campaign. He felt that way because he was afraid it would be taking a chance to speak to many residents at once, live, with the possibility of not being knowledgeable enough to answer a question or say something he would not be able to take back. Though I pressed candidate White many times to use this technology that was freely available to him and show residents his desire to be open and upfront, his fear of making a fool of himself took precedence. This of course is no longer an issue for him, or it shouldn’t be, anyway. He is the mayor now and will be for a minimum of the next three and one-half years.
As the recreation debacle has brought to light, there is a definite need for more and better interaction between residents and their government. Because I had the capability to do what I suggested above was not the reason why it was a good idea. It’s a good idea because it is a needed idea. Council meetings once a month on TV aren’t going to cut it. A council meeting is not even a meeting with the mayor. It’s a council meeting with the mayor being an invited guest. Mayor White, Councilwoman D’Arminio, and Councilman Accomando, were all adamant, unwavering in their concerns, that the previous administration was too much of a “behind closed doors” administration. They wanted to be so different in their transparency to their constituents.
The township is now paying for television services. The benefit of paying for this service was supposed to be that they can now ask for, and receive, the services they need and not be concerned with abusing volunteers.
Such lofty ideas while running for office, yet very much the status quo now that they are in office.
They were correct in their desire to do better when they had their turn. They were not naïve. They can now do what they so strongly believed then. It should not be so easily forgotten what it was like when they were on the outside looking in.
The days of the campaign brought out the best of everyone involved. It’s too early in the game to be “comfortable in their ways”.
Start planning those district townhall meetings now! Use some of the $187,000 you collected from Cablevision and Verizon FiOS franchise fees and get your TV people to work with your website people. Shoot for 21st Century type video productions in the 21st Century with LIVE video and audience interaction.
A township resident’s awareness of his or her government’s actions is just as important as any other issue the town fathers try to tackle. Government may not be able to solve every problem. However, making each and every resident aware of what can, can’t, or is being done, shouldn’t be a problem at all.