Grass Roots Democracy
First, to encourage Southtown citizens, young and old alike, to become more knowledgeable about, and active participants in, the operation of their town government. In a self-rule democracy, where every citizen is responsible for his or her own political fate, there is no substitute for widespread citizen participation. Citizens not only have the right, but the duty, to take part in their town’s governing process.
Second, to assist citizens and elected town officials, working together, to find ways to build and maintain effective local governments in the rural Southtowns. Good government doesn’t just happen. This is especially the case in rural America where small towns often depend on non-trained, part-time elected and appointed officials to provide day-to-day public services and manage the town in accord with basic democratic principles.
In larger, more urban units of government, elected and appointed officials typically draw upon the knowledge and experience of full-time, public management staffers. Whereas small town officials face complex administrative and policy making issues without similar staff assistance.
One way to close this gap is to cultivate skilled, informed and engaged town citizens through meaningful civic participation opportunites and effective training programs. In this way, citizens will acquire and develop the civic skills needed to do their part in strengthening the town’s governing process,
The Southtowns is the geographic region south of Buffalo, New York, including the towns of: Boston; Brant; Colden; Collins; Concord; Eden; Evans; Holland; North Collins; Sardinia and Wales.
Southtowns Almanac. Here you can get better acquainted with the geographic, economic, demographic and political characteristics of each town.
The Bookshelf. Reports, documents and other reference materials will be found here.
The Learning Center. Assuming that learning never ends, this portal will contain both historical and current information to help us better understand the operation of national, state and local governments in America.
Schoolbook Democracy. Here you can review the version of American democracy taught in the Southtown high schools. Both high school students and elected officials are likely to raise interesting questions when the schoolbook view of democracy is compared with the way democracy is practiced in the Buffalo Southtowns.
The newsletter will focus on local government issues–what town, village and county and school officials are doing well and where there is honest, constructive debate about what they are not doing or doing poorly.
The spirit behind the newsletter is simple: Public officials work for and serve us. It is our job, as self-rule citizens, to participate in the governing process by voicing our opinions and and letting our elected officials know how we view their work.
Will avoid political debates that foster non-constructive, us vs. them rants.
Yours truly, Ron Fraser, 716-941-5986
The discussion of public issues, great and small, are welcome on this site. Here are a few (some still under construction) ongoing public issues that will be addressed.
Please feel free to suggest additional issues not listed below.
Checks & Balances
Rule of Law
Southtown governments are, in general, handicapped with a weak executive branch, Can a more effective use of citizen participation in local government affairs strengthen the towns’ performance?
In addition, as a town offers more meaningful ways for citizens to take part, citizens build their civic skills and, in the process, become even more able to contribute to their local, self-rule democracy.
Citizen participation takes many forms, including:
> Constructively contacting and working with local officials when public problems arise;
> Actively working for a party or candidate;
> Volunteering for work on a town committee;
> Getting involved in community issues and projects;
> Forming a group to solve a local problem.