Diary

Getting Local: Government Oversight.

A few weeks ago, Moe gave us a challenge to “Get Local” by writing about our home U.S. House district. Many of us have done that. Influencing our entire district can be difficult for those of us that live in districts that cover large land areas. CO-4, for example, covers most of Eastern Colorado and the farther northern part of the Colorado Front Range. This includes all or part of 16 counties.

Rather than sit around and worry about what I cannot do, I’ve decided to find out what I can do. This starts with finding out what’s happening with the government in my County and my City. This doesn’t make the other 15 counties less important, it’s just being realistic about what I can do on a day-to-day basis.

I recently wrong a blog here about open records access which can be used to bring to light wasteful government spending. While this is a big part of government oversight, it’s only a part of it.

How many of you know your County Supervisors and City Council members? I must admit I didn’t even know their names until six months ago when I found out that my neighborhood is represented by the Mayor Pro Tem who happens to be very anti-growth. This has caused businesses to expand in the neighboring towns of Timnath and Windsor.

The Fort Collins City Council meets every Tuesday night (with exceptions) with the 2nd and 4th of each month closed to the public for work sessions. Cable Television broadcasts are on channel 14 and available online. County Supervisor meetings are also available online and on channel 14 in Fort Collins, and channel 16 in Loveland.

Fort Collins has several Boards and Advisories that advise the City Council. These meetings are open to the public for observation and input. Any citizen of the city can apply to be a member of them.

The business environment of each city is different. By far, the largest employer in Fort Collins is Colorado State University. Over 60% of those that employ over 1,000 are government organizations, each one needing oversight by the public.

There’s no question there’s a lot to do, but that also means if we put in the effort there’s no end to the influence we can have. Not everyone is interested in writing, but that doesn’t mean your friends can’t be enlisted to attend some of these meetings and report back to you what’s going on. Once a issue is discovered, then you can use Open Records laws to uncover more about what’s been happening.

Another reason for getting local is getting the inside track on future National government leaders. Most of you will remember the inside information we received here on RedState about Vice-Presidential candidate Governor Sarah Palin because constant reader Achance knew her from the time she was mayor of Wasilla.

Most of our national legislators were once some type of local government official, whether it be mayor, City Council or County Supervisor, or State legislator. Getting to know them while they’re still at the local level is not only more likely, but will help to give insight to others when they move up to the next level. You’re also more likely to have influence over those that you already know and who already know you.

There’s much work to be done over the next few years to return conservative principles to the Republican Party. This starts by holding our elected officials accountable. To do that, we need to get to know them and get involved, whether that be by participation or simply getting the information out to the public.

There’s a funny thing about human nature that’s quite predictable. When people know that you’re watching, they watch themselves much more closely. Our job is to make sure that they know we’re watching.

Night Twister