Monday, August 19, 2013

Fighting Discouragement

The biggest wall between what Norristown is and what it can become is discouragement.

I've been hearing residents and business people talking about how they're discouraged by crime and trash. Lately, community groups like The Norristown Project, The Greater Norristown Ministerium, the Men of Excellence, and the Norristown Area CTC have come forward to work on these problems. They have to, because Council and other officials down at 235 East Airy don't seem to be doing a thing about them.

I say "don't seem" because when anyone tries to find out what's going on, we're faced with a black hole of communication.

The thing that discourages many of us most is Council's attitude. Let me say right up front that Linda Christian, the councilwoman in my district, does answer emails. She sends out newsletters and holds 3rd district meetings. I believe she does her best to keep us informed. She encourages her constituents to express their concerns, not only to her, but to the rest of council. This is how representation SHOULD be done.

So when issues have come up, I've emailed other councilpeople, too, yet have never received a reply. Never. I've heard the same from other residents. The only other councilman who ever seems to reply is Gary Simpson, almost as if the others have all agreed to let Gary be their spokesman. The problem with that is that the tone of Gary's communications aren't "I understand your concern as a taxpayer. Let me explain it the best I can..." but "You shouldn't concern yourself with this because we know best, and by the way, everything you believe is wrong." Gary's tone discourages further questions and inquiries.

On top of that, Council's been holding a lot of "Executive Sessions" in the last year. Translation: non-public meetings. They've rushed through, or tried to rush through, decisions that, in the opinion of many of us, should have been open to public comment and review.

Council, this isn't the way to win voters, and NO WAY to treat the taxpayers who are your EMPLOYERS.

I've been taking a poll of residents and business people in the last few weeks. Not one person I've spoken to trusts Council to act in Norristown's best interest. That isn't saying Council ISN'T acting in the town's best interest, just that the perception is that they can't be trusted to do so. Open, CIVIL, communication would go a long way toward changing that perception.

We have enough discouragement in this town. We don't need more from our elected and appointed officials.

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