Former Republican Candidate for House District 35
I’m from the government and I’m here to help. Nearly everyone laughs, at least here in Westminster. In Ferguson, Missouri, not so much. We laugh because, for most people, our interactions with the government are aggravating or frustrating or bewildering or expensive. None of which is ‘helpful’. It comes as a regulation our business did not know about or getting popped on traffic beef or worrying about the dog license we’ve been putting off. Seeing a government official means bad news. Even when we are happy to see the Fire Department someone is sick or hurt or your home is on fire. Having a jaundice eye towards government is healthy; having a contempt or fear for government is bad.
As citizens, there is not much we can do about the situation. I and my six colleagues, as the Westminster City Council, are much more empowered to address the situation. Fixing things at the Federal level will require miracles. Fixing things at the State level requires persistence and money. Fixing things at the City level is a ‘can do’ proposition. Our Council not only serves Westminster, we run Westminster.
I feel that the key to increasing the amount of respect and appreciation that the citizens have in government lies in the citizens knowing that they own and control the government. I feel that we cannot run a good government without the people actively joining with us in running the government. Government Officials too often forget that most of our laws are enforced by our citizens on themselves. Americans voluntarily obey the law. That is why we don’t need cops on every street corner. Ordinary citizens have the guts to be jurors in trials, to be witnesses and to be plaintiffs. This reality of American society needs to be openly stated and celebrated and rewarded.
This is not a new observation. Westminster has always had leaders that keep us expanding our expectations for good government. We have taken all kinds of actions to value and respect our citizen owners. Our SPIRIT customer service is merely one of our many programs. Our current Council has reached out and audited some departments to improve how government interacts with people. We had the courage to hear criticism of our current practices and reconsider the policies we set. I want to do even more.
The first step in in the mindset we have. Citizens are not the adversary of government. The Citizens are our partners. I say partners because elected officials and city workers are just ordinary citizens that have accepted additional duties in government. Government workers are neither servants nor demi-gods ruling over our Citizens lives. The mindset we must have in that 99% of the public wants to do the right thing. The vast majority of the public will the right thing just by being asked and informed.
The second step is to reward our partners. We are a wealthy City, $20 million in profit per year for the last 3 years. Let’s share some of that cash with our citizen owners.
1-Change City policy and return to having no need for dog licenses. The City would pay Foothills Animal Refuge for our citizens’ voluntary participation. Dog owners would be fools not to sign up. Dog owners would know that the City is there to help them reunite with their pet. Cost is about $150,000.
2-Change City policy and give every property owner a small credit at the building department. When an owner came in to apply for a building permit, besides getting help and guidance, they would get a tangible money reward for voluntarily following the law. Cost is about $200,000.
3-Start a policy where City would offer deferred prosecutions to non-accident, minor traffic violations. With 6 months of good driving the prosecution would be dropped. This would reward drivers that improved their driving and subtly reset the relationship between law enforcement and drivers. It would be harder to claim to be a victim of speed trap. Cost is about $500,000 in lost fines.
4-We should reward our bill-current water/sewer customers with a once a year rebate on their water bill. We run a profit making, disaster prepared, future thinking utility. Smartly run, customer owned electric utilities give rebates to their members; we should do the same with ours. This would reward timely bill paying and make our prudent annual increases a bit more palatable. Cost is about $2.5 million.
And why not?