To the editor:
First, it is important that I say that I really appreciate those in our community who offer their time and skills to oversee Athens’ government — those who are elected officials, those who hold jobs in the city government, and those who volunteer their time. These people serve the Athens’ citizens and are responsible to them.
I have been made aware recently that I don’t know what is happening in Athens. Over the years I have trusted our local government to be responsive to its citizens. Perhaps that is true for many others in the community, and it is a mistake. Blindly trusting elected officials, city boards and commissions makes for an inefficient system of democracy. Our officials are meant to represent us, listen to us, and be responsive to us. How are these officials to know our views unless we keep informed and make our views known to them?
It is becoming clear to me that I don’t know how the city is run, who is responsible for what. What is the role of the president of city council? The role of city council? What is the responsibility of city council? What is the role of the mayor? What is the relationship between the mayor and city council? What is the role of city planner, the code office, etc.? And to whom do they answer? How does the auditor and law director fit into the scheme of things?
If I am concerned about something in the city, to whom do I go to get information? Who is responsible for responding to my concern?
I have heard that the mayor has a vision for our city. That may, or may not, be true. If it is, what is it? I have never heard what it is nor been invited to be part of the creation of this vision. Has the community been included in this process? Personally, I don’t know who or what is guiding the direction of our city and who is involved in these decisions. I would like to know.
To be an active member of a democratic government it is essential be be actively engaged in its operation and to do so it is important to know how our government works and to be kept informed by our officials (and by the press) so we can make our concerns and wishes known.