POSTED ON MAY 23, 2012:
Love Letters, hate mail
Know Your Trash
I don't feel like the promotion of this new program has been thought through very well. I received a postcard stating that I should select my trash cart size and service plan between May 14 -- June 8 at the website address of knowyourtrash.com. On the front of the postcard, the message is "coming soon." On the back of the card, the actual dates. Why the inconsistent messaging?
On the website, the home page refers to the new trash and recycling program with no valuable information about how the recycling part of the service will work. In very small type under the headline about selecting a trash service, this sentence appears; the only reference to the recycling side of the program:
Keep in mind that all residents will receive a 96-gallon recycling cart.
How can one keep in mind something they are not aware of in the first place?
Since I couldn't access my current refuge charge online because it doesn't appear on my profile or payment information page, I called the number on the website to determine if this new service would be a savings to me. The woman I spoke to, while friendly and helpful, hadn't been given any additional information on the recycling program. Was it once a week? Would it still be in the front if your trash was picked up in the back?
Would someone pick up the 2 green hard-plastic containers I have or am I expected to recycle them? She also told me that I would receive these 2 containers in July, one for trash and one for recycling, but that I was expected to store them in my one-car garage until October.
Why the rush to promote the plan, set up a website and a call center but not have the program details fully developed with a trained call center at the ready? Why waste my time 5 months before the program is effective?
I've signed up for the service I think I need but, with so little information, it is likely that I will have to contact the City of Tulsa again. Hopefully, the program will be better organized.
Know Your Trash? What's the rush?
Ahead of the Curve
I have noticed articles recently published in the Tulsa World about marketing the city. Apparently they are desperate to get word out that Tulsa exists and feel a need for heavy marketing. Instead of trying to label the area as a 'BBQ City,' I propose we take an alternative, more radical approach in putting a face to the name.
In its May edition, Wired Magazine published an article titled "Fewer Voters, Better Elections." In the article, Joshua Davis describes ancient Athens' style of democracy and how it could be modernized. Currently, everyone is entitled to a vote -- Davis cites "two separate research initiatives [which] have proposed a return to this purer, Athenian-style Democracy."
He continues, "Rather than expect everyone to vote, both proposals argue, we should randomly select an anonymous subset of electors from among registered voters. Their votes would then be extrapolated to the wider population." Davis -- going on to declare why this method would be a positive alternative to the current one -- states that 'focus groups' of voters could yield better, more thoroughly educated results; given that, like Jurors, randomly selected voters will be given detailed information and opposing opinions along with time to review the factors, and anonymously cast their votes via internet. This would be greatly beneficial, given that many active voters do not have time to properly inspect all factors of what or whom they are voting for, and make rash decisions based on generalized speeches or commercials. (Keep in mind, the selection is different from an electoral college--it is a random selection of the general population similar to a jury.)
My suggestion is that, as a relatively up-and-coming city, Tulsa respectively experiments with the Athenian mode of Democracy. For issues, of lesser importance, of course, the City Council could apply the practice of randomly selecting a concentration of voters--thus, "a randomly selected group of...citizens spends one or two days listening to experts on both sides debate the merits of an initiative or a candidate. Then the group votes and the results are enacted" (Davis, "Fewer Voters ...).
This being said, one cannot expect citizens to feel content with potentially giving up their much-coveted votes; however, it would be feasible to demonstrate the method in terms that do not flatly effect Tulsa's society or laws, such as opinion taking. The City could predetermine the condensed selection, and, when all votes are taken, the smaller selection could be compared to the overall consensus to find out if an accurate representation was portrayed by the selected group of voters.
"The BBQ City' is unoriginal and behind the game, if anything, and does not have potential of getting Tulsa anywhere in the long run. Experimenting with alternative forms of democracy on the local level, especially if proven successful, would put Tulsa on the market as being unique, intriguing, and ahead of the curve, which is what will really etch the city's name in stone. If we want to be taken seriously and lure serious investors, this is how it is done -- not through more BBQ or fast-food restaurants.
--Shane L. Byler
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