March 21, 2014 12:13:53 PM
To describe Tuesday's meeting at Lion Hills Golf Club as a pep rally is not an attempt to be dismissive of the event.
The gathering, which over-filled the small meeting room reserved for the event, was organized by Ward 5 Councilman Kabir Karriem. Originally, it was intended to be a small, informal meeting with area clergy, who Karriem correctly acknowledges are opinion leaders in the community.
But the meeting morphed into a much larger gathering filled not only with clergy, but city, community and county leaders.
"What started out as a cow turned into a horse," is the way Karriem put it.
The meeting offered a chance for a range of officials to make their cases for the "good things" happening in the city. Mayor Robert Smith, Columbus school interim superintendent Edna McGill, police chief Selvain McQueen, LINK official Brenda Lathan and Community Outreach Director Glenda Buckhalter all shared with the audience "the good things" that are happening in the city.
It is the nature of news that "what's wrong" is often given more attention that what's working. In a practical sense, is it natural that what's wrong should warrant our attention. Of course, it is also appropriate to step back on occasion and celebrate our successes.
Tuesday's meeting served that purpose. The tone of the gathering was upbeat, positive and we suspect that all who attended left in a little better frame of mind.
We also applaud Karriem's efforts to reach out to the broader community. We hope this act will encourage our leaders to make efforts to better engage residents in the business of the city. Our elected officials are entrusted to handle that business, but they perform those tasks best when they involve the citizens.
One of the trademarks of any healthy community is a populace that actively participates in city government. For some time now, our community has been disengaged from the process. Attendance at school board meetings and city council meeting has been poor. As a result, there is little public debate and discussion.
We believe the best remedy for this is to conduct city business openly and invite residents to make their voices heard in public forums. Our leaders should actively look for opportunities to bring residents into the discussions. Meetings such as Tuesday's are a positive sign our leaders do want to hear what residents have to say.
In an athletic context, a pep rally is designed not so much to inspire the players, but to encourage the fans who support the players.
Tuesday's meeting, then, was a pep rally. And there's nothing wrong with that at all.