JUDGE: Participation is fundamental
Each year Post Oak Savannah Groundwater Conservation District (POSGCD) holds their Groundwater Summit in Caldwell. Last week I had the pleasure of addressing an audience of about 300 people there. This year was the ninth year they have held this event, and I have had the opportunity to attend the last five. Each year it seems to grow and that is good news. The Milam and Burleson County Judges each get to welcome the attendees and this year I spoke about public participation.
Regardless of the endeavor, public participation in the process is important. Each of us participating in the public Arena is paramount to a successful outcome. Be it the political process, volunteer actions, or any other of the myriad of public services that can be performed; participation is not only helpful, it is necessary.
During the election last year, regardless of the group of people I addressed, three of the top five issues were always transparency, property taxes, and water. Of course, two of the organizations least understood by the public at large are organizations that are directly related to property taxes and water; the county appraisal districts and the groundwater conservation districts. Ironically, with all the misunderstanding of what these two organizations do, both have a significant amount of information on their websites and both organizations have monthly board meetings that are open to the public. This is where your participation comes in.
Participation improves knowledge of the issues and recognition of the process. Two things each of us need to make things better. One of the looming problems any volunteer organization faces today is a lack of volunteers. It seems the best way to better understand a problem is to participate, but the increasing number of things to distract us in our lives keeps many of use from participating and making a difference.
Participatory citizenship in the county, this state, and this country is a fulltime active sport. Anyone (and usually everyone) can comment, complain, or otherwise bloviate on most topics in the public realm, but those who make a difference are those who actively engage and participate. Sometimes those folks make a difference for the good and sometimes not so much; however, it is easy to comment on issues that affect us and wait on a solution, it’s quite another to have some skin in the game and become a part of that solution.
In the last few years there have been many opportunities in Milam County to attend hearings, meetings, and events to learn about issues that affect us all and to participate in the process, yet many folks let those opportunities go by. It’s only after these issues come to fruition and become personally recognized by them that these folks ask, “why weren’t we given a chance to say something about this.” In fact, they were, they just didn’t know it because they weren’t staying active. We have to be engaged in the process. Stay civil, stay respectful, but stay involved.
This week we held our first town hall meeting on the budget, we have several more to come. Below is a list of upcoming town halls and I look forward to seeing you there.
Milano – Milano Civic Center, Aug. 28 at 6:30 p.m.
Buckholts – Community Center, Aug. 30 at 6:30 p.m.
Thorndale – Precinct 4 Annex, Sept. 5, 6:30 p.m.
Rockdale – Municipal Development District Office, Sept 6, 6:30 p.m.