To counteract resident alienation, the Manhattan Beach City Council (MBCC) should employ public engagement strategies to increase civic involvement by residents in the deliberation of public policymaking thereby promoting the overall public interest rather than of a minority of interests (e.g. those of real estate developers, architects, contractors, and realtors).
A resident significantly impacted by a major neighborhood construction project appeared before the MBCC pleading for its intervention. Yet, the same resident rejected the responsibility of the MBCC to promote civic engagement but rather stated:
“…[A] few weeks ago you wrote of voter apathy and seemed to blame it on City Council's behavior. I believe our local voter apathy is based on self-centered APATHY…Our residents are too interested in throwing parties in their mcmansions, earning money to pay for their mcmansions, showing off their BMW's and designer duds, taking Johnny to soccer practice, etc. Think about how many garages you pass with the Beach Reporter lying outside all week. City Council's fault?”
The resident is not alone. In a survey of elected officials, 87% viewed the public as disengaged but still valuing yet cautious of deliberative processes. Therefore, are we in a “chicken or egg” quandary? How do we ensure the MBCC meets its governance responsibilities to promote our community’s public interest?
Perhaps the answer is inherent in approximately only 20% of those registered voting in the last municipal election meaning each member of the MBCC did “not” receive votes by over 80% of registered voters. Representative government? No way!