June 10, 2004
Public Comment

Last night I went to a City Council Meeting to speak publically as I am wont to do.

The basic issue was whether the city should replace a stable that borders the Arroyo Seco Park with the 13th soccer field in the city. I think not.

At 6:30PM the meeting convened,

The special committee that worked for seven months presented their results to the council and the assembled masses. The committee recommended that the stables remain and felt there were serious problem with the soccer plan.

The crowd was 90% made up of stable supporters.

One after one the public got up and spoke there piece. After a number of these meetings, I've come to realize that most people don't have a clue on how to make a point. There are basically two flawed methods they use, the Ramble, and the Script Read. In the case of the Ramble, the person gets to the mic and simply can't make a point, they wander off into personal anecdotes that mean nothing. In the Script Read, they start rattling off a list of facts a figures quickly, making no eye contact and lacking all emotion.

I prefer the Previous Support method. When trying to convince the Council of something, you need to tie it to their previous support of another issue. By mentioning their stance on another issue, you appear to show respect and agreement with them. This makes them suggestive to your point. You then make an apt compairison to the current issue, explaining how their previous reasoning still applies.

The majority of speakers were in support of the stables and the general tone was running against the soccer fields. The last public speaker was the owner of the stables. Rather than basking in the warm glow of support, thanking his supporters, and offering to work with the city to address any concerns, he took and angry tone. Stupid move. He stridently argued about how he was doing nothing wrong and how the city had failed him in settling things. Deeper and deeper he dug his hole.

I left after three hours, while the council was still discussing what to do. In the end, they are probably not going to put in the soccer fields, but most likely they will entertain other offers on running an equestrian center there.

I tell you, the more I see of politics at the local level, the more I both love and fear it. Do yourself a favor, go to the next city council meeting in your town. You won't be disappointed.

Posted by michael at June 10, 2004 09:43 PM