Hart: Showing up at polls, meetings is best course for the publicNovember 4th, 2012
From the Houston Chronicle | By Patricia Kilday Hart | November 3, 2012
On a recent weekday evening, about 60 grown-ups shifted noisily in the wooden auditorium seats at Westbury High School. Onstage, Houston ISD school board president Mike Lunceford gave a detached analysis of the proposed school bonds, sounding every bit like the engineer that he is. Aided by slides of leaking roofs, cracked floors and flooded walkways, Lunceford reminded his audience of Houston’s mercurial weather, as the images showed the havoc wreaked by hurricanes and drought.
The presentation was skillful and authoritative, despite an annoying buzz on the sound system that competed with Lunceford’s voice.
Someone asked: Would the bonds be used to build a new auditorium at Westbury? Lunceford consulted with a staff member and they both agreed probably not, because the acoustics were still pretty good.
“What? What!” People cried in unison, half in astonishment, and half because they honestly couldn’t hear what was just said.
Welcome to the old-fashioned Town Hall, where neighbors show up and learn about their government in a spin-free zone. Face to face with real elected officials, the folks who participated at Westbury got unfiltered information, undistorted by campaign rhetoric. I came because I was skeptical about HISD’s historic bond request, but I left in awe of the people who rolled up their sleeves to do the hard work required by a democracy.
We live in the Information Age, and yet the bombardment of “facts” leaves us confused. The audience at Westbury High understands this truth: There is no shortcut to being a good citizen. You have to show up.
Read the full article here.