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April 5, 2005

Coffee Klatch

While a group of Republicans stood in front of Winchester Hall and talked about tax relief, another group of folks gathered over at Jennifer’s restaurant to talk about the real business of the people of the City.

The folks that gathered at the Mayor’s business were ordinary citizens, not often seen down at City Hall, but somewhere along the way they must’ve expressed an interest in governmental matters, perhaps an issue of a street or property, the quality of trash pickup or noise around their homes.  So they were invited to chat over coffee and donuts about the various matters before the City.  In one room you had talk of fixing a plumbing problem on an old home and talk of needing the ‘voice of the people’ to come before the Mayor and Board.

Not being a formal adherent to the Democratic party politics in town, I cannot say if some were local activists, but there was not that atmosphere of rubbing up against the politicos, it was just a friendly neighborhood gathering.  It had a pleasant quality, a warm glow of comraderie on a rainy Saturday morning.  To read the local newspapers, who would’ve thought that such a spirit existed in Frederick?

What was remarkable about it was to see the difference in dialogue between the officials and the residents, how it was unlike the public displays of public meetings.  The overall tone was one of mutual support and agreement on the issues, such as the Land Management ordinance, the rezonings and the comprehensive plan.  Why, you’d almost sit there and believe that the citizens are happy with the way the City is being managed!

Could there be an element of satisfaction and public welcome to the Mayor’s and the Democratic Alderpersons that a certain portion of the local political haymakers ignore?  Most certainly!  In fact, that may be why they try so hard to flail against the tides.  If this is how such minor town forums proceed elsewhere for the City leadership, it bodes well for the administration’s reelection.  I wonder how the cabal of local naysayers will spin that?  It won’t be an anomaly.  It will represent the real opinions of Frederick residents.

The town hall atmosphere is what we need more in Frederick.  It’s the quality of life that we’ve come here to achieve.  And it’s still available here.

If I were Mayor, I’d…bring a lot more of those type of groups together, and encourage more of those folks to drop by meetings at City Hall. 

If I had to, I’d put out the coffee and donuts in the boardroom and engage in chat about plumbing problems in old houses, just because that level of repartee is the basis of a sense of how public dialogue should be guided, it’s about what we agree on and have in common, and it goes far to inform the larger dialogue about where we as a community should be heading with government. 

Fix a problem, replace a pipe or two and get on with real life. 

 Deciding what’s best for us all without a lot of bombast and vainglory. 

You won’t read that in the newspapers.