The Seven Walls of Local Government; Wall #2 – Bread or Circus?

No, you can’t come in. We’re remodeling.

As promised, here is the second installment of J.H. Habermeyer’s engaging essay on the methods local government uses to dissuade public dissent and protect itself and its undertakings.


The Second Wall

Now that the vast majority of qualified electors has decided to voluntarily to disenfranchise itself, and now that the bureaucrats have thoroughly confounded others with incomprehensible nonsense in the form of official reports, studies and agenda materials, we will address ourselves to the most charming scam perpetrated by local government – the charade known as the public meeting.

The meeting itself shall be addressed in the next section. Now I propose to discuss the scheduling aspects of the meeting: the Planning Commission may meet at 1:30 in the afternoon; the County Commissioners may meet at 9:00 in the morning; the City Council may start meetings at 4:00 PM.

You can successfully wager that the bureaucrats will be there in force, for they are being remunerated for their presence, as are any of the expensive expert consultants they have engaged to provide a professional imprimatur for their agenda. Will the public be there?

Fortunately for those inside the citadel, many, if not most electors have mortgages and bills, and other such economic irritations that necessitate gainful employment. Few employers will countenance an employee’s absence to attend the myriad public hearings held at all levels of a local government during working hours – often the very same meetings in which the initial inertial momentum is created for whatever project the bureaucracy is pursuing. That the quotidian necessities of life preclude the attendance of many citizens at meetings is never off the minds of those who schedule public meetings.

An ostensibly helpful government body may elect to hold meetings at a more convenient hour, such as in the evening, but we may be confident that many other items will be crowded on the agenda like so many shipwreck survivors on a small raft. And can John Q. Public get there soon enough after work and a hurried meal? Can he stay late enough to hear the item of particular interest to him? His potential antagonists have all the time in the world; does he?

The Seven Walls of Local Government

<< Wall #1: Public Indifference | Wall #3: The Performance >>

15 Replies to “The Seven Walls of Local Government; Wall #2 – Bread or Circus?”

  1. Son of a B… I was just thinking this as i pondered the amount of BS generated with every agenda item on every agenda for every public agency. What a friggin waste!


  2. Take for example Santa Ana’s ongoing marijuana dispensary controversy. At a recent community meeting you have the SAPD telling you that the dispensaries are not allowed in the City. Code tells you that these establishments are operating illegally and that a criminal complaint could be filed against the building owner and the dispenary. But nothing gets done – the perfect bureaucratic circle jerk.

  3. “…many other items will be crowded on the agenda like so many shipwreck survivors on a small raft.”

    That’s just beautiful, Professor.

  4. That’s how they -Fitzgerald & Co- like it. Govrerning without opposition with the appearance of democracy. It’s their dream made true.

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