The Greensboro City Council spends most of its time talking about local issues bus fares, water rates, taxes, construction contracts and the like, but at the meeting last week Councilmember Tammi Thurm brought up an issue that is becoming a huge problem in this world of instantaneous worldwide communication.
It’s nearly impossible to get the word out to people.
Thurm said, “Tonight we again had a discussion about notification and notice and people not knowing what is going on. I would really like to see us take a hard look across the board on how we do notifications of upcoming policies, ordinances etc. and how we get the word out to the people who are most effected.”
Thurm in particular was talking about the “Good Repair” ordinance where one reason the vote on the new ordinance was delayed for a month was that a number of stakeholder groups had said that they weren’t aware of the meetings to discuss the ordinance.
Thurm said she was talking to one person who had complained about the city not notifying people about the ordinance. Thurm said she explained that it had been in the newspaper and the woman said she didn’t get the newspaper. Thurm then noted that it was on television and the woman said she didn’t get any local stations. Thurm said it was on Facebook and the woman said she didn’t do Facebook.
Thurm said, “Maybe we need to go back to old fashioned mail to the heads of organizations to get the word out.”
Mayor Nancy Vaughan said, “I had the exact same conversation about recycling and glass.”
Vaughan said, “I don’t know the best way to reach out to people that are not reading the newspaper, not watching TV and not on social media.”
Thurm said that she had just been at a regional meeting and that was a big topic of discussion amongst the elected officials. She said everybody had the same problem, but nobody had a good solution.
Thurm suggested going back to “old fashioned mail,” but maybe the city should look further back. For centuries governments got their news out by means of an official Town Crier.
Once newspapers were put out of business notifying the public of anything worthwhile went out of business.
It would behoove anyone, especially those who hold a level of responsibility – landlord, business owner, social worker, tenant, etc – to stay abreast of the news in some way. No, they don’t have to pay to subscribe to the newspaper, but there are free papers (Rhino) and of course, social media which provide important news. Even if you don’t want to, watching the local news will provide notice of important happenings that everyone should be aware of. I think the public needs to take some responsibility here and not blame the officials.