I recently read an interesting review of public participation and how elected officials feel about it, written by Otis White, a fantastic leader in local governance issues. Read it here. Otis notes that many elected officials aren’t willing to adopt it, or, if they do, they are woefully lacking in the way they approach it. I would add that it doesn’t just apply to elected officials. I know plenty of public sector employees and managers that feel and do the same. The public sector approach to public participation usually reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from early on in Parks & Recreation from the vaunted Ron Swanson: “I hate the public; the public is stupid.” (Read a fun article on all his local government ideas here. Great stuff.)
With that preface, I want to ask you, the residents and frequent visitors of Oklahoma City, how do you feel about the level of citizen engagement in Oklahoma City? Does it meet your needs and what you want from the City?
Take a look at this diagram of the Ladder of Participation (taken from the p2p Foundation):
Where do you think Oklahoma City falls on the ladder? Does it change rungs depending on the task?