The current street reopening/abandonment story that is unfolding in Mullinville is a textbook example of disconnect between small rural government and their residents.
Locals are apathetic, with many throwing their hands up in the air proclaiming ‘why bother?’
Stop into any city council meeting in the county and you’ll realize very quickly that community interest in local government is at a dismal level.
Greensburg, Mullinville and Haviland hold city council meetings at least once a month. Mullinville and Greensburg meet twice a month although they are held on the same nights, the first and third Monday of each month, so don’t bother trying to go to both.
The county commissioners meet three times a month, on the first and third Monday and on the last day of the month.
Eight meetings a month. Eight meetings during which your elected officials decide how to spend your money and how to govern your city and county.
But where are all of the people?
Mullinville City Hall can accommodate about 10 or so attendees but there is never a problem finding a seat.
Haviland City Hall can fit quite a bit more, but the 15 or so seats are more than enough to accommodate the one or two people sitting in on their meetings.
The commissioners have free coffee and doughnuts, but even the lure of early morning sweet pastries and caffeine are not enough to bring in more than the occasional observer, unless of course there is a discussion about the mill levy, then they seem to come out of the woodwork. But where are these people when the commissioners are actually spending their money? They are probably in the coffee shop or restaurant or hardware store complaining to anyone and everyone except the person they should be complaining to.
I see the most people at the Greensburg City Council meetings. Small contingents of locals attend the regular meetings, although many of them have vested interests in organizations in town.
Overall there is a noticeable lack of interest in how these cities spend taxpayer money and do business and city officials notice this lack of interest.
Do they think ‘no one is watching, let’s spend this million dollars on a new city hall?’ Maybe. More likely they will simply forget to consider the very people they serve when making decisions. You cannot blame the dog for eating the steak when your back is turned.