Having attended lots of events and meeting where local and state elected officials were in attendance, I’ve learned that a certain deference is given them. Particularly at partisan Democratic meetings. I don’t necessarily grudge elected officials their time to speak or be recognized, but it’s almost like an insult if you fail to acknowledge their presence. Event coordinators run around like gangbusters to be sure they have a full list of every elected official attending an event in order to give them their “due.”
However, this community meeting and open forum was not supposed to be politics-as-usual. Shame on (some) elected officials for feeling more important than the public at a time like this. It is obvious to me that there are still some people stuck in the mode of thinking that this is first and foremost their time, and the public can participate like an afterthought. I hope that they learn from this mistake and change the format at the next meeting. It should be first come, first serve, and mix it up with the rabble, please.
After Bill Martin’s speech at the opening of a local documentary about Western Avenue Studios by my friend and studio neighbor Donna Beale (about 2 months ago at the Revolving [Museum]), where he took a little too much personal credit for Lowell’s artistic resurgence for my comfort (Western Ave, for instance, had nothing to do with this city or its incentives for redevelopment, and everything to do with the out-of-state developer – and we are currently getting not much in the way of support from the city either), and his promise to bring in more people to support the artist community and buy their art so we can make this a vibrant art community instead of one always struggling to survive on a knife’s edge – but with no concrete proposals forthcoming – I became a little skeptical of his leadership. He will probably be annoyed or angry at me for saying it, but too bad. He needs to know that there is a new dawn of politics in Massachusetts and he either can live up to the new standards, or face criticism and defeat. We aren’t interested in politics-as-usual in our state any more.
In the immortal words of the fictional freedom fighter “V” – People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.
[X-posted on my own blog, Left in Lowell.]