I am basically an optimistic person. I would not waste my time writing this blog, going to meetings, researching issues, and talking to people if I thought there was no hope for making things better. I want to work with people to get things done, rather than engage in endless, pointless struggles.
Someone once told me that the definition for depression is the lack of hope. If that's true, then my feelings of frustration, anger and sadness come from my waning sense of optimism in the fairness and functionality of local government. City Hall is not the place residents can go for help.
If you believe that the tree code is tough and the city will bend over backwards to prevent your neighbor from cutting a special tree or too many trees, then you haven't seen how differently they treat developers.
If you think Lake Oswego has difficult and complicated development codes that protect our quality of life, then you haven't seen the grotesque twisting of codes to favor some disastrous developments in unsuspecting neighborhoods.
And if you think that the City Council's move to strike "but not excessive" from the parking policy in the comprehensive plan means parking modifiers should have been thrown out of the codes by now, well, you just don't know City Hall.
Stakeholder committees? Citizen participation?
I could go on, but what's the use. Why bother? Why would an otherwise optimistic, civic-minded, hard-working and principaled person, who believes in making the city the best it can be for the people who live here, feel so discouraged? Because the system is designed to make it so. The courageous ones are the people who remain involved year after year knowing how their message is being received. They have faith that our citizen-led, democratic system will prevail against bureaucracy and cronyism. They have hope.
For your dose of hope today, I offer this short video about overcoming barriers to citizen involvement government. Godspeed.
The antidote to apathy