Fred Wilson at AVC.com wrote about a local community board meeting in Brooklyn this past week that got a bit out of control.
The issue – where Citibike places its parking stations.
Apparently, one of the local citizens was not happy that Citibike had placed a parking station for its bikes in his neighborhood. You can watch this older gentleman get a bit “passionate” about the issue in the following video. At one point he keeps berating one of the board members by getting in his face and saying “What are you gonna do? You’re gonna hit me? What are you gonna do?”
As entertaining and concerning as the video may be, I think the best part of it is simply the fact that it took place. I love that there are so many people at the meeting and that the board members are shoved up against a bookcase in order to make as much room possible for community members to attend.
As Tip O’Neill once said, “all politics is local”, suggesting that a politician’s success is directly tied to his ability to understand and influence the issues of his constituents. Politicians must appeal to the simple, mundane and everyday concerns of those who elect them into office. Those personal issues, rather than big and intangible ideas, are often what voters care most about, according to this principle. People tend to care about issues that directly impact them, and for the most part are resistant to change.
I think this meeting supports such a claim. These people, or at least this one gentleman, is concerned about parking spaces in his neighborhood. I’m guessing that he does not get as passionate about issues such as minimum wage laws or overcrowded prisons (unless the prison was in his backyard).
The other thing I liked about this story was that the story was covered in the local neighborhood newspaper. While many neighborhoods have such newspapers, this one seemed to have quite an engaged readership.
For example, this story about Citibikes has over 65 comments. Not bad for what in the grand scheme of things may not be considered that big an issue, but down at the local level, it apparently hit a raw nerve with many people.
Reading about and watching such community involvement reinforces what a great country we have. People are given a venue where they are free to express their opinion on any issue they want, whether it’s at a public forum or in the comments section of an online newspaper.
It also makes New York City look like an awesome place to live.
While people will often disagree with each other, as long as they are willing to listen to each other and treat each other with respect, such a system works well.
I also have to give kudos to the people who volunteer their time and energy to serve on such community boards.The time commitment can be significant, the people they deal with can become belligerent (I’ve seen it at our own community board meetings), and they do it for little to no compensation. But without them, the system wouldn’t work.