Our Apathy is Appalling

Only one member of the public attended the City Council meeting to fill a vacant council seat. Photo by Brian Hagberg.

“There is no public comment.”

It’s interesting that phrase was spoken during Monday’s scheduled Public Hearing for the City of Warren budget.

Given all the “suggestions” made in conversation (in-person and online) about all the things City Council would be better served to spend money on, *cough-“Fix the Roads”-*cough, not one comment was made about the proposed 2022 budget.

Not. One. Comment.

No one from the public even bothered to show up. The meeting was adjourned in under a minute.

You would think for all the pissing and moaning that goes on here about decision-making and taxes and what county leaders should do about population decline, that the citizenry would be more engaged with that process, not less.

But our general apathy about actually doing something instead of just complaining has been on full display lately.

In the year-plus that we’ve been in operation we have noticed that generally speaking, the public doesn’t attend government meetings. Whether that be City Council, the County Commissioners, school board or any of the various municipal township and borough meetings, attendance is sparse, at best.

The fact is, with special exceptions for controversial topics, there is zero public attendance at most meetings.

This could be mitigated if we were letting our voices be heard with our votes, but that’s not happening either.

According to the county’s official election results, less than a third of registered voters (31.21 percent) cast a ballot in the 2021 municipal election. And many of the races were uncontested.

This election was, for the most part, centered around the offices that most directly impact our day-to-day lives. City Council, Township Supervisors, Borough Officers, School Board, etc.

So we don’t vote, and we don’t attend meetings to provide input during public comment sessions, yet it seems everyone wants to voice their opinion after the fact about the decisions that were made.

It’s long past time we start taking these conversations away from the water coolers and social media groups, and having them where they belong.

In a public forum during board/council/committee meetings where the suggestions, ideas, changes and, yes, even the complaints might actually do some good.

We need to stop sitting around and get off our collective behinds and start providing our input through our voices and our votes.

The less we hear, “There is no public comment,” the better.