Thursday, May 6, 2021

#126 / Upside Down City


Back in April, an email bulletin from someone active in Santa Cruz County politics provided me with this analysis of our local political scene: 

Local government is upside down, with developers at the top and the public at the bottom. Staff resists public engagement in the process of government ... as the people have different priorities than the elite oligarchy that's in control. Staff have adopted corporate terms and procedures ("stakeholders," focus groups, breakout groups, time limits) that limit and control public participation.
Having served as an elected official in Santa Cruz County for twenty years - but in a completely different time - I must say that I concur in this analysis. I like the "upside down city" way of talking about the problem, too. When ordinary people are at the bottom, the wrong people are at the top. This is not a phenomenon, I am sorry to say, that is confined to local government!
A suggested cure for the "upside down" malady was also provided, along with the diagnosis:
The answer is more public participation in local government, not just voting, but everyday, face to face, engagement in the process of government.
I think that's right on target! I almost always say it this way: "If we want to have democratic self-government, then we will have to get involved ourselves."

Image Credit:
Quotation Credit:
Michael Lewis,

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