Know your City Council

Cleaning out my office recently (Okay, I was looking for a bottle of booze), I stumbled onto the following pamphlet that was produced many years ago as an informative guide to dealing with local government. Who knows? We might find a use for it today.

... You know, now that I look at it, I'm not sure what can be taken and applied to our Kingman City Council. Probably nothing. Although, the lesson might be that it's time for everyone to lighten up just a bit.

You got me.

YOUR CITY COUNCIL AND YOU

Have you ever asked yourself, What the heck does a city council do? Sure you have, probably thousands of times. This guide is designed to provide answers to your many questions concerning your friendly neighborhood city council and the wonderful folks who make up this important governmental body.

What is a City Council?

It's difficult to explain. The first city council began in Rome hundreds of years before your father's father's father's father was born. The first council was made up of six town elders who were chosen as punishment for wearing high-priced sandals to a stoning. Convicted of "Putting on Aires," the six were placed at the top of a small hill near the center of town where citizens would throw vegetables at them on their way to and from market. The council members soon began to throw some of the vegetables back at the citizens, and the modern city council was born.

What does a City Council do?

Only a handful of people know the answer to that question, as it's a heavily guarded secret passed down through the years in rituals called "Executive Sessions." Scholars who have studied the phenomena note a few similar characteristics of councils across the globe. First, most councils decide land use by utilizing a complicated system based on where the council members live and work. To bolster the value of their personal land holdings, members will frequently deny land-use requests under the guise, "It's not good for the city as a whole." Second, most councils pass laws then search for ways not to follow them. This is referred to as the "You elected us, so just let us do our damn jobs" system of governing. It's best not to approach these councils sober. And finally, scholars found that most councils welcome input from citizens as long as it's in the form of praise and admiration. Council members are known to explode with anger when citizens criticize their efforts, so it's best to refrain from taking an active interest in your city government.

How do I become a City

Council member?

Haven't you been paying attention? No one wants to be a council member. Usually, friends and family repeatedly pester a citizen to "make a difference in our community" until that person gets so sick of hearing about it that they run for a seat. Once they've secured a place on the hill, a wonderful transformation takes place, whereby the member becomes quick tempered and evasive. They forget why they ran for council in the first place and frequently spar publicly with the same concerned citizens they promised to help. This is called pulling a "Deering."

How should I address the City Council at public

meetings?

With proper planning, you should never have to stand before a city council and speak. Should the need arise, however, it is best to hire a public relations firm to represent you, then sit in the back row in disguise and heckle your representative to throw off suspicion. If you're poor and can't afford a PR firm, seek out one of the local citizens who gets up to speak at every council meeting and see if they'll "throw in" your concerns. If you are unable to shift your duty as a citizen to others and are forced to speak to council, cower at the microphone and speak softly. Council members tend to inflate their self-image, so groveling can be very effective. Although members sit on a riser, you should cast your eyes at least 2 feet above their eyes to aid in the façade.

What should I do if I meet a member of council outside meetings?

Do not make eye contact. Similar to the steps that should be taken if confronted by a rabid mountain lion in the wild, back away slowly, never run. The council member is liable to mistake you as prey and pounce. Thank them politely for their service to the community, say, "You were right to vote that way," then tell them you need to get back home and name a town outside the one you're in.

Is a City Council

necessary?

No.

What about a mayor?

No.

What can I as a citizen do to assist my city council?

There's several ways to support your city council, and no one way works for every council. Read your local DAILY newspaper every day (except on Saturdays), call your mayor at least once a week and vote in favor of all ballot measures that attempt to raise your taxes. Do not question decisions of the council, do not try to persuade the council, do not criticize the council. If you feel your council is ignoring your concerns, move to the county.

Anything else I should know about my city council?

No.