The Last Word, January 2022

A community’s New Year’s resolution

By Tony Chavonne

The tradition of New Year’s resolutions dates back over 4,000 years. The new year offers us a natural breakpoint, a time to reflect where we are and where we are going. We have all made resolutions to ourselves for some type of self-improvement at the beginning of each year, but after six months, less than half of those who made a resolution are successful in keeping it.

Perhaps our community’s 2022 New Year’s resolutions should be different. We see the growing polarization in our county, and the resulting partisan divisiveness is creating a hostile and divided citizenry. The growing loss of transparency by local officials and political bickering contribute to the increasing loss of confidence in government. As in many places across the country, the traditional free press model is failing – and without it, people are less engaged, and apathy is growing. Too many of our citizens are opting to leave our community, a fact that contributes to us being unable to keep up with the growth of the state’s other major cities.

It has never been more important for us to make better resolutions and to commit our best efforts to meet them. We all have a part.

As for our elected officials, let them resolve that our community belongs to the citizens. Let their resolutions include an increased commitment to transparency and responsiveness. May they resolve to set aside partisanship and personal animus and strive for the type of collaboration we saw last year with our state delegation and the resulting success we saw for our community. Let them resolve to work more closely with other local governments on the issues that challenge the community. May they resolve to address any allegations of inappropriate actions by elected people to help build confidence in our leaders. And may they resolve to be accessible to citizens and to the media and answer rightful questions about the people’s business.

If there is, as many people believe, a shadow government here, then let their resolution be a new commitment to the people’s business being done in the people’s house at city hall, and not behind the wooden doors of corporate boardrooms across this city.

Let our local governments resolve to make public information more accessible to citizens and to eliminate the bureaucracy that thwarts legitimate public inquiries. May they resolve to publicly address and resolve questions of inappropriate behavior by city staff when those questions arise and make a recommitment to the Council-Manager form of government.

For the local news media, let us all resolve to provide more aggressive coverage of news – to cover the meetings, to ask the hard questions and to speak truth to power. As there are not enough resources for any single media outlet to fully cover our community, may we resolve to set aside competitiveness and build new business plans that promote collaboration among media outlets. May we resolve to work together to keep our citizens more fully informed and help protect our cherished democracy.

For CityView Media, we recognize that we can no longer be content with simply telling good stories in a colorful magazine each month. Our resolutions are to add a news division, with experienced journalists, to cover more local news. We will provide our citizens a digital daily newspaper, CityView TODAY, reporting on the actions of local government and explore ways to share local news with other media with the goal of getting as much local news to as many people through as many outlets as possible.

Lastly, let the citizens of our community resolve to fight the growing apathy here, to recommit ourselves to become more involved and informed. May we resolve to demand more transparency and accountability from our local government. And to support the news outlets in our community to help ensure there is an aggressive free press helping keep our community informed. May our resolutions include a commitment to stay and work together for the community we love and the future vitality we want.

We can’t allow this year’s resolutions to simply be about losing weight. And we can’t allow this year’s resolutions to be forgotten just a few months into the year.

The resolutions we make, and then meet by working together, can help ensure a brighter future for our community.

And, who knows? Maybe we’ll lose a few pounds along the way.