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Our View" Town Halls are a constructive tool

Posted: February 10, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: February 10, 2013 2:00 a.m.

The City of Santa Clarita led by Mayor Bob Kellar held its first of four scheduled town hall meetings this week.

A well-attended town hall at Newhall Elementary School will be followed by three more in Canyon Country, Valencia and Saugus.

We believe periodic town halls are a constructive tool in active democracies and we fully support the city’s efforts and the community’s participation.

Increased dialogue that comes from town halls promotes better understanding between elected officials and citizens.

At every level and in every region of the country there are complaints about the growing firewall between government and the people, that government has somehow come to exist for its own purposes and not the purpose in which it was intended — to serve the people.

We agree with Newhall attendee Larry McClements when he says that he thinks the more informal nature of town halls makes it easier to talk with city officials.

The more rigid structure of city council meetings is much less conducive to public participation.

The direct interface of town hall meetings helps to reduce the strength of firewalls and the public frustration that accompanies them.

Sometimes these events can turn into an unruly gripe session and it is easy to appreciate a city’s hesitation to "opening that door." But the facilitated breakout sessions used by the city give everyone a chance to air their views and contribute.

Gripes have a chance to turned into constructive suggestions and healthy venting can reduce citizens’ frustrations. It’s not perfect and it is not always pretty but it is better.

The old business adage, "you never know where your next pearl is going to come from" is also true here. If citizens and city elected officials and staff maintain the same goal, a better City of Santa Clarita, then we think the town hall process will produce some good ideas and we look forward to getting behind them.


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