ELGL hosted a Twittersation addressing many of the local government issues that arose following the shooting of Michael Brown. Our moderator, Brittany Bennett, summarized her thoughts on the Twittersation. You can also read the Storify summary we compiled from the many tweets flying to and fro during the conversation and add your input on the topics through this survey.
Take our survey and tell us what you think about Ferguson: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/8J7YFR2
While watching the news last weekend, I began to ponder what Michael Brown’s death and subsequent protests reveal about the importance of an engaged citizenry and well-managed local government. I have heard many textbook public administration diagnoses of the local officials’ handling of the unrest in Ferguson ranging from lack of communication, poor civic engagement, and even the need to consolidate small municipalities.
I hadn’t, however, heard any commentary from the local government community and wanted to get a conversation going. Fortunately, the folks at ELGL responded immediately by creating the #ELGLFerguson “Twittersation,” which brought together local government leaders and public service-minded people from both coasts and places in between for an excellent discussion.
The conversation lasted a little more than an hour as a diverse group of participants responded to questions and each other’s responses. We began by assessing management issues demonstrated by Ferguson police and administrators’ responses; moved into a discussion on the importance of representative democracy and the need for diversity within local governments; and ended with brainstorming ideas to help local government employees better understand and appreciate different community perspectives. Participants also shared ways to promote equity and justice from their positions in their organizations. I was impressed by the thoughtful comments and have shared some notable ones below.
- “There was limited transparency which was a key issue. They failed to control the narrative and have been catching up” – @RafaelBaptista5
- “…a reminder that clear, understandable #localgov procedures and communications protocols matter.” – @kowyatt
- “The militarized response shows that police don’t see themselves as part of the community, want to control not serve” – @benkittelson56
- “It further perpetuates the racial tension in Ferguson. It silences those who need to be heard by those in power” – @PanjabiD
- “Get out to minority communities +start talking to them about their needs. Residents don’t always need to come to gov’t” [email protected]
- “leave the office once in a while, find meaningful ways to engage with citizens from all parts of community, listen” [email protected]
- “Well let’s fix it then, eh? We’re not young, idealistic public administrators for nothing!”- @emleuning
Overall, I left Friday’s “Twittersation” feeling inspired by and confident in the new generation of public servants. The major takeaway for me is that local government officials or other community leaders must be willing to address deep social issues of race and class that are often manifest in actions, policies, and priorities. To be effective, we must leave our offices, go out into the community, and build trust by listening to the needs of all the people we serve.
Thank you to everyone who shared your thoughts or who simply followed the #ELGLFerguson hashtag. Your willingness to engage in this important conversation will improve our communities so that we no longer require tragedy to effect change.