It is never wrong for local citizens to stand up and speak up in order to hold local public officials and institutions accountable and to keep them honest. Yet some folks in Great Falls still think that any criticism of our so-called “leaders” and public policies is somehow wrong, even damaging to our community.
In my opinion the exact opposite is true. Great Falls is becoming a better place to live, not in spite of citizens speaking up, asking questions, and challenging the failed status quo, but because of it.
Our wonderful city, which is so full of potential, will attract new people and development because average citizens are aware and endeavoring to create an honest and open environment, not because we’re pretending everything is hunky dory when obviously it is not.
Here’s just one example of how truth, not denial, makes Great Falls a better place to live – when some of us started raising the alarm a while back, the City of Great Falls was compelled to enact new public ethics measures, including:
- Dissolving the severely conflicted Community Development Council.
- Establishing an official Ethics Committee.
- Re-writing the Community Development Block Grant funding process and procedures.
None of this happened because of change agents within the city commission or at City Hall, it happened because local folks are becoming more informed, less afraid to speak up and are demanding accountability. Letter’s to the editor, official letters of complaint to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and awareness through social media and local blogs like E-City Beat helped force the City to change some policies and procedures that were wrong.
Conflicts of interest, lack of vision and leadership, self serving public officials, cronyism and corruption have plagued my hometown of Great Falls for years. Unfortunately, many in our local news media have failed to do their jobs by refusing to actually investigate and inform the public without bias or preferential treatment to the local good ol’ boys and gals club.
Thankfully, and for the good of our community, we no longer have to rely solely on the local mainstream media for accurate and honest information about how our local government and its employees are using OUR resources and managing OUR business.
We now have vox populi – the voice of the people.
It’s up to each of us to decide whether we’re going to cowboy up, be honest and deal with reality or if we’re going to continue to accept the failed status quo and pretend we’re being “positive and optimistic” by denying reality.