Local Government Assignment – Cities

Local Government Assignment – CitiesPaper details:
Cities are created by charter, like a corporation. Citizens form a city to provide services the private sector can’t efficiently provide on its own – water and sewer service, fire and police protection, parks and libraries, streets and bridges.

A city is a public services company that you own. The city council is your board of directors. In Houston, the mayor is your chief executive officer.

How does your company make decisions on your behalf?

Go to the Houston City Secretary’s website:

http://www.houstontx.gov/citysec/CitySec-Home-Page

Each week (with a few exceptions), a Houston City Council meeting starts on Tuesday afternoon with something called “public session.” That’s where citizens take turns griping about potholes or police brutality for three minutes apiece. The stranger ones tend to go last.

Click on “Current City Council Agenda,” and you can see how the meeting is organized.

Click on “Archived Agendas and Minutes” and you can see what they’ve done at previous meetings.

Click on a date under “minutes” on any given two-day meeting and scroll down past the people griping about potholes… past the unhappy tow truck drivers… past the recognition of Mrs. Smith’s 2nd grade class for the poster they made for National Milk Week…. just past the part where “President Joseph Charles” is complaining that the city is conspiring with the mafia and space aliens to remove all of his internal organs with lasers. Shortly after that, you’ll see where they recess until Wednesday. Wednesday is when the important stuff starts.

Pick a real agenda item from a Wednesday session at least a few weeks ago, where the minutes are online (but not before July, 2015), something where they’re changing a city ordinance or spending a lot of money. Pick something where there was some council discussion, preferably some disagreement, and a recorded vote. Write a 2-5 page college-level essay about the item, telling me what the item was about, who was for and against it, what happened, and what you think about it.

(Please find an item with enough information that it gives you something to write about. Do NOT submit a three sentence essay that says they proposed buying some orange construction cones, everybody voted for it and you think it’s nice because safety is good. Find something where there was some disagreement, or at least some serious discussion. If you don’t see that, keep looking.)

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