Dec 15 2009

Be a Part of the Conversation

Back in August, before the Metro Charter Commission was formed, I wrote a post about having a “frank and actionable discussion” about government. Yesterday, at Shelby Farms, I was pleased to participate in the launch of an organization whose mission is to help foster that discussion.

Rebuild Government, organized by Brian Stephens, seeks to build community awareness and participation in shaping the Metro Charter process. I am honored to be one of the Co-Chairs of this effort.

In the five and a half years that I’ve lived in Shelby County, the biggest thing I’ve seen lacking is the opportunity for citizens to have a direct voice in how local government works, outside of the regular election calendar. While I can’t speak for everyone, I’m sure just about every citizen of Shelby County has a suggestion for making government more effective, responsive, and representative of the community.

This is our chance to not only raise our voices, but effect a change.

The truth of the matter is that while opposition to “Metro Government” has been lining up for months now, that opposition has nothing to oppose but the process. Not one single line of a new proposed Charter has been committed to paper. And while it’s certain that the Metro Charter Commission will be meeting personally with citizens all over the County to listen to their thoughts and concerns, there’s no way that 15 Commissioners can effectively engage the nearly one million people that live here by themselves.

That’s one area where this organization comes in. While Rebuild Government, makes no claims to be a surrogate for the Charter Commission, it does seek to be a conduit to help educate, engage, and empower the community on the activities of the Charter Commission and take advantage of the opportunity we have before us to build the best possible government for our community.

Shelby County needs this discussion. We may or may not end up in a Charter that both city and county residents can live with, but without the conversation, we’ll never really know.

- Steve Ross is a Co-Chair of Rebuild Government, an organization committed to build community awareness and participation in the Metro Charter process by creating and giving voice to an informed and engaged citizenry. The views expressed in this space are not necessarily those of Rebuild Government, its Co-Chairs, organizers, or affiliates.