Can you fight City Hall?
When citizens become interested in their local government, sometimes the local government isn’t interested in them. Maryam Judar, executive director of the Citizen Advocacy Center, says her group helps people who want to be heard and run into trouble, whether it’s with the City Council, the County Board or the School Board.
“It might be that their board is refusing to allow public comments, or they might make it a practice of escorting meeting attendees out for no legitimate reason other than to silence their critics. It might be that they’re having difficulty accessing public records,” she says.
Judar’s advice to those who want to raise a fuss at the next council meeting: Be respectful, and stick to the issues and the facts, and don’t assume something is true just because somebody said it in an e-mail.
She also says if local governments want to cut down on Freedom of Information Act requests, they should post as much material as possible on their websites.
Judar says people often become interested over a particular issue, and then stay interested, sometimes even running for local office themselves.