Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Joys of the Democratic Process

One of the fun parts of my job is the diverse things I get to do. Yesterday was one of those times....sort of. I have in the past and am once again working on public relations around politics (aka government affairs). The joy of this is an event like last night---the public hearing.

If you've ever been to a public hearing, you know these things are simultaneously boring as hell and highly entertaining. If you've never been to a public hearing, it's pretty much just like you see in Parks and Rec. Last night there was a table on stage with two chairs and two government officials there to listen. There was an audience in an auditorium and a microphone in the middle of it all. There are really two types of people that come to these things: 1) people representing a larger organization that have well-planned and thought out ideas to express. These are usually people that do these things for their job. 2) pissed off citizens.

Public hearings are kind of like live versions of comment sections online. Rarely do you have someone comment or review something online that they love. They are usually just itching to complain and show how smart (or smart ass) they are.

Last night's public hearing had to do with a city planning proposal and it pretty much followed this formula. Here are my favorite highlights of the night:
  • The very first lady (who was pissed off) introduced the phrase "ho motel" into our vernacular. She was loudly concerned that the proposal did nothing to address the three ho motels in her neighborhood. 
  • A woman wore a denim poncho made from several parts of various jeans all sewn together. Ponchos are a mystery to me in the first place because I don't see the point of them unless their plastic and used to protect from the rain. She sported hers over a hooded sweatshirt which just added to my confusion. I was also a little concerned because the jeans looked well worn and her head went through the area that used to be crotch. 
  • I saw a hippie crossed with Mr. Garrison from South Park. He said "MMkay" a lot, had an earring and was advocate for more public space. He also had the most well-coiffed rat tail that I've ever seen. And I lived in the South for more than a decade. This thing was about 3 inches above his waist. I would've laughed if I wasn't so impressed with his tenacity for a long forgotten hairstyle.
If you have the chance, go to a city council meeting or some other public event where people can express themselves. At the very least find a cable access channel and log in some time or best of all watch several episodes of "Parks & Rec."

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