JG Excerpt:As reported in the Janesville Gazette, nine residents made the effort to attend the hearing and spoke in favor of allowing chickens (up to 4, no roosters) in Janesville yards, three spoke against it. Nine against three in Janesville means the nine lose.
JANESVILLE — Janesville Plan Commission members listened to a dozen residents speak Monday about a proposed ordinance change to allow backyard chickens before recommending against the proposal.
Predictably, the Planning commission without any discussion or debate voted unanimously against the proposal, with one member abstaining. When given the choice, the position of city committees along with the opinions of city administration employees hold all the marbles against the wishes of the majority.
The commission’s negative recommendation goes to city council members, who are scheduled to discuss the issue and hold a public hearing at their meeting on Monday. But seriously, why bother? If city officials and some council members ask for citizens to attend meetings to voice their position, get it, and then reject it in favor of the opinion of city panels and employees, who are they listening to? Letters, phone calls, emails and text messages? If that's the case, why bother with the hearings?
The fact is, this recent decision is just another in a long line of dubious decisions handed down from Janesville City Hall against independent community organizers. Regardless of where you stand on chickens in the backyard, if you want to exact any kind of positive change in Janesville and you're not part of one of the many power cliques, you lose. In fact, the stronger your group becomes, and the more vocal it becomes, and the larger it becomes, the more opposition you'll face from their media marketing enablers. IF your group is truly independent, you'll be painted as negative and a interloping power grabber. It never fails.
Does anyone ever wonder why there are no community citizen groups independent of city government in Janesville? By this I mean the only citizen groups allowed any input or success in Janesville were eventually captured and used as an extension of the city administration. Friends of Riverside Park are one example, inventions like neighborhood action teams are another. The other point is, if your "movement" runs counter to the corporate rightwing legislative mission of Forward Janesville, you won't even see it coming regardless of how many people you bring to the meeting. Chickens in backyards and skateboarders in Palmer Park don't stand a chance. In fact, most of Janesville's (not all) council members will view a large independent turnout at a meeting as confrontational or unproductive. They'll vote against you just because of your numbers.
With some time and the right search words, you'd be able to find at least a half-a-dozen recent examples archived in this blog of the Janesville city council voting against the published and vocal consensus.
The structural process of Janesville city government has to change before any real democratic progress will ever come home to roost in Janesville. But don't expect that to happen any time soon.
Related reading: Non-partisan elections like throwing darts.
Note: This posting is the independent perspective and opinion of its author and is not a position statement on the "chickens in the backyard" issue.