We were encouraged to learn that Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon has opened his doors to the general public regularly and is meeting with his constituents on a first-come, first-served basis. The move comes on the heels of other mayors and officials adopting a similar policy, not to mention the popular "Talk to the Governor" radio program.
It is good for citizens to feel they have the ear of their leaders.
But more, it is good for the state's leaders to see and hear on a face-to-face basis just who their "bosses" really are.
Many problems in political and government arenas arise when officials become insulated and isolated. They surround themselves with people who "get with the program," who don't always have the fortitude to speak truth to power. On a global scale, that can lead to hideous situations between leaders and their nations, as we've seen in Myanmar and North Korea. On a local level (and all politics is local, after all) it can lead to the citizens and leaders working at cross-purposes, as Utah witnessed last year with the vote to repeal school voucher legislation. That kind of debacle occurs when officials start governing by abstract ideas and refuse to heed the voice of their constituents. And the disconnect can cost hundreds of hours and millions of dollars.
The same thing happens in small towns where mayors at times can get so carried away with their "vision" that they develop blindness to the wishes of the people.
Robert Fulghum, the celebrated author, always took a camera with him when he signed books. He'd snap photographs of his readers and pin them to his wall back home, just so he could remember who he was writing for. The regular get-togethers with regular folks being held by Mayor Corroon and others serve the same purpose. They help both sides come in contact with reality.
In ancient days, kings had court jesters around to tell them when "his royal highness" was acting like a royal pain.
One hopes all the people dropping by the office of Mayor Corroon will perform an equally worthwhile service.