Saturday, May 29, 2010

Local Governance?!?

I think it is clear that good government must begin locally and spread from there, but one of the biggest reasons that I worry that this may not be possible is how often I have seen local scale government work very poorly.

My first real experience with local government was during college when I was increasingly involved in student government over a 3 year period. By the third year I was student President and that year was focused almost entirely on the job and being involved with college governance as well as a good deal of provincial involvement. I was able to be involved with academic and financial planning within the college and also had the opportunity to be quite active within our provincial student body. I even managed to be a part of meetings with the Provincial Government department that dealt with colleges and universities, Advanced Education, but I was generally steered away from dealings with Advanced Ed, thanks to my outspoken nature (illustrated by my tendency to drop the F bomb when I hear someone spewing total BS and I know they should know better).

But I digress.

What I was getting as is that even at the very local level of college governance, I still saw absolutely ridiculous decisions made which would only hurt students at some point, all to satisfy greed or ego...or both. And now, a good few years later, I see the same thing going on, albeit at a smaller scale, in the condo that I live in (my brother owns our unit). People do not want the slight responsibilities of Board activity so it seems to be usually the case that those who show interest in Board activity are those who have come up with some way to use it to benefit themselves. Back in January through April the Board contracted a property manager to handle day to day management including condo fee collection and scheduling of maintenance like snow removal and repairs. It seemed to me at the time that this was being set up under some slightly suspicious circumstances but not being a Board member there was little I could do.

So now, as of a couple months ago, I receive a notice that the Board has approved a re-keying of all suites to a Master key. I should mention again, at this point, that this is a privately owned condominium unit, not an apartment. I wrote a letter to the Board stating that I was opposed to this action and did not feel that the Board had the power to take such action. The bylaw that is referenced by the Board (and the property manager who obviously asked for the Board action) states:

"An owner shall permit the Corporation and its agents, at all reasonable times, on notice (except in the case of emergency when no notice is required) to enter his Unit for the purpose of inspecting the Unit and maintaining, repairing or renewing pipes, wires cables, ducts, conduits, plumbing, sewers and other facilities for the furnishing of utilities for the time being existing in the unit or common property, or for the purpose of maintaining, repairing or renewing the common property, or for the purpose of ensuring that the Bylaws are being observed."

So now I get to argue that my interpretation of that Bylaw doesn't include my having to accept a Master key for our suite. If that doesn't work, I then have to go through the hassle of stalling the rekeying while I initiate a clarifying Notice of Motion to change the Bylaw to add definitions of "reasonable times" and "on notice". This probably needs to be done anyway, since the Bylaws are a my opinion. They are full of these kinds of ambiguous, overly general wordings.

Grrrr, I knew I hated the idea of owning a condominium!!!!

But this hopefully does something to illustrate my concern that people nowadays will be able to form fair and common sense local governments. As much as I have seen or somehow experienced an increase in people who are conscious and interested in more than just themselves and material remains a very small fraction of the people I see in general. So very many still seem hopelessly lost in a world of text messaging while driving and doing one's hair, or in a world of celebrity worship, or in a world of worshiping the blessed economy (insert appropriate bells and whistles).

I know this doesn't mean that no local communities will have success in creating their own sustainable local governance. I'm just not sure that enough of them will form along complimentary enough lines to make positive "nationalism" or "globalism" possible. Unfortunately, this is a mindset that lends credence to the elitist view that mankind must be controlled and manipulated.

I wonder if this knowledge would be enough to wake people from their self-involved slumber and turn them from sub-consciously directed consuming robots, back into conscious stewards of themselves and the natural world.


Teresa said...

I love living in the country. My dad is on the nearby town's local city counsel, and he does nothing but rant and rave, usually for good reasons about how stupid people are and the idiotic things they want to spend money they don't have to purchase.

Good luck with the bylaws.

MoonRaven said...

Your post is, unfortunately, only too accurate. How to get people to return to being "conscious stewards of themselves and the natural world"--wow, that's a good question.

Thanks for all your thoughts on this. As difficult as it is, it's important to look at it.

linda said...

Good luck with your condo issues first of all....
I read this when you first wrote it then had to think on what you were saying but I don't have an answer or a response except to say that you brought up a really deep issue, especially with the mention of "nationalism" and "globalism".

I'm still thinking........

Jerry said...

Thanks for the comments all!

I'm glad to hear you're still thinking, linda. I am too. Gets tired once in awhile though, doesn't it.

linda said...

Well Jerry,
still thinking but more along the lines of paradigms rather than people. I see a need in this day and age for governance of some sort especially with the thoughts of nationalism and globalism that you brought, yet its rather hard for me to think of the new world being built up along the same old model because that model is broken. Those are my very surface thoughts at this time. Still thinking....not sure if I should thank you or not:)Yes, very tiring sometimes.