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I know this because I used to be in the newspaper busi-

ness and spent a lot of time at various city council meetings. But generalized apathy is mostly to blame for our nonpartici- pation. In our minds, we’ve paid our taxes and that’s the end of it. No other effort or sacrifice is required. Whether a city publishes its decisions and activities and

notifies residents when a plan has been formed and will be executed, or goes about its business without comment, most of us are totally unaware of our local government and its machinations.We just don’t pay attention. In our ignorance, we are convinced that city officials don’t address the issues that are important to us, but instead use all their time and our taxes giving themselves raises. A city could take out a front-page advertisement in the

local newspaper and of the 10 people who still take the paper, only five will notice and two will remember. And I can say that because, once again, I used to be in the newspaper busi- ness, and I am saddened by but still honest about the reality of declining newspaper readership. A city can post fliers, make radio announcements and

mail FAQ sheets, but most residents will be oblivious. If they knocked on our doors like Mormon missionaries, we might listen, but we might just say “I already have a Bible!” and slam the door. The things regular citizens do notice are immediate and

personal. Every parking meter has a tiny little sign with tiny little print telling us when we can park and how much it will cost us. Many of us attempt to decipher that coded language and behave accordingly. We don’t want that little white envelope to appear on our

windshields. The parking ticket is immediate and personal, and usu-

ally the threat of it is enough to guarantee good behavior. Send me a notice that in three months, the city will be resur- facing my street, and I will forget all about it. Leave a note onmy door that tomorrow my street will be

inaccessible and I will need to park on a nearby street, and I will obediently move my car. Immediate and personal. During the last 10 years, our beachside meters have been

changed out once already, and lately, the entire promenade along the shore has been ripped up, along with the new-ish meters, and is being replaced. I have wondered what think tank came up with the idea

to replace the meters and then do it again so soon, and I am betting it all comes down to an unpredictable rotation of funds. It’s all a big unknown anyway. The city might have told everyone about its plan to

upgrade the roadside and meters, but if they did, I either was- n’t listening or forgot. And I guess that makes me the idiot. What I think is that we are all idiots sometimes, whether

we admit it or not. And we are all heroes sometimes, whether we realize it or not.

Melissa Bean Sterzick is an Amateur Parker and PT’s proofreader. She can be reached at


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