You Should Go To City Hall

There is a regularly scheduled City Council meeting on Monday May 20th at 7:30 PM and I can’t go. There will probably be a few other people from the community there but maybe not. There have been a few meetings this year when I was the only person in attendance who was not a member of the council or a city employee. These meetings are open to the public and streamed online but public interest seems to be very low.  

The future of the Lakewood Pit, recreational marijuana laws, Lakewood Park and Madison Park upgrades, the Bunts Road overhaul, transportation safety practices, the use of tens of millions of dollars of public money and much more are all ongoing conversations at City Hall. Most of these topics are discussed with zero input from the public. Sometimes there is an eComment submitted. Most of these projects have public meetings in advance where our voices can be heard. But the public voice is almost always absent at the committee and council meetings where these issues are finalized and voted on by our elected representatives.

Do you know who your council representative is? At election time do you usually vote for whoever is already there because things are fine, or vote for the other person because you aren’t happy with something that happened? Voting is absolutely crucial and also the bare minimum you can do to influence the future of our community in the way that you would like to.

Last week I watched our elected officials debate whether or not adults should be able to smoke weed on bar patios and it seemed like they were basically guessing how you felt. More importantly, they were going off of their own personal feelings. Is that the way you would like these decisions to be made?  

Some of you would be thrilled to come to a meeting and see how your council representative stands up for your best interests. Some of you will probably be a little disappointed. 

All of these committee and full council meetings allow you to make a public comment. You can also call or email any member of city council any time you please about anything you like. I would encourage you all to do this.

A small group of likeminded individuals with somewhat regular attendance can have great influence over the policies and decisions made by our city. I have watched it happen.

These meetings are all held in the City Hall “Auditorium.” It is a conference room with a stage. The entrance is at the rear of City Hall which is located at 12650 Detroit. There is plenty of parking for your car and a few spots for your bicycle. The bicycle people are friendly so if you don’t get there in time to lock your bike to the bike racks you can lock it to one of their bikes. Just find them when you get inside and let them know. 

When you walk in that rear entrance there is an elevator on your right that you can take to the second floor.  You can also take the stairs which are through the door past the elevator. At the top there will be two security guards with a metal detector if you are there on a council night. This metal detector is very sensitive. Your belt buckle or watch will set it off. If you are there on a night of just committee meetings there is no security. Walk down the hallway and use any of the three doors to enter the “Auditorium.” You can sit anywhere in the two groups of black and metal chairs. 

You can sign up for public comment at the table with the blue table covering. Public comment is usually at the end of the topic if you signed up to speak on a specific agenda item, or at the end of the meeting if it is a general comment. Press the button on the podium so the light turns green. Council President Kepple will ask you to state your name and address and keep your comment to five minutes. If you don’t say your address, they won’t stop you and force you to. You can usually go for 6-7 minutes without being interrupted but there is a timer for you to look at.

Let me know if anything interesting happens at the meeting. I’m sorry I can’t be there. I’ll see you on June 3rd. Come say “hi.” I have yellow shoes and a tennis ball colored bike helmet.

Theodore Babcock is a photographer and a Lakewood resident.

Theodore Babcock

Theodore Babcock is a photographer and Lakewood resident.Local Man/Photographer

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Volume 20, Issue 10, Posted 3:03 PM, 05.08.2024