Government seeds are planted locally

The following is a worm-eaten chestnut that has been generally ignored over the course of time:

Democracy is a particiption sport.

Then there is this addendum:

You get the government you vote for.

Routinely these bromides are served up as exhortations for citizens to get out and vote. Now they are offered as encouragement to citizens who want to get a handle on how city government spends their tax dollars and, more importantly, on why the various departments conduct their day-to-day affairs the way they do.

Mayor Jim Donchess has proposed the Nashua City Academy, a 13-week program set to begin March 6, which is looking for applicants. A registration form is available at nashua.gov, the city’s website.

“Do you want to see what goes on inside a firehouse? Do you want to learn more about how the city plows its streets or landfills its garbage?” Donchess asked during his State of the City address last Tuesday. “Do you want to learn more about city budgeting? Sign up for the Nashua City Academy right away.”

Its beginnings are somewhat humble. There are 50 openings available, and will go to the first 50 applicants. Presumably, if a significant number of citizens show interest, more sessions will be scheduled.

Weekly classes are set for Monday nights, from 6:30-8:30, in the City Hall Auditorium. The initial presentation will include the mayor, Board of Alderman president Brian McCarthy and representatives from city boards and volunteer opportunities.

Future Monday evenings will feature the city’s Economic Development Director Tim Cummings, Nashua Police Chief Andrew Lavoie (for two sessions), Fire and Rescue Chief Steven Galipeau, representatives from the Community Development program, representatives from the Department of Public Works and all of its various divisions, the School Department, the Public Library, Emergency Management and Health and Human Services.

The 50 citizens who avail themselves to this opportunity should be commended for their willingness to hear from the folks who work for them in coordinating the services they are subsidizing. Complaining about a city department’s perceived shortcomings is easy and vulnerable to dissolving into personal debate. Knowledge of a department’s operations, and putting a face on its leadership, can only help in avoiding toxic feelings that often linger in a citizen’s kind long after the squabbling.

And, by the way, everyone really should take advantage of their most fundamental right and vote in city elections.

The seeds of what our representatives in Washington do truly are planted in the cities and towns.