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Yes I'll take a mile. Now to desperation my stated goal it led now by saving my comrades and the writer's job by all those sacred temples and welfare. Oh all others do read my city and I wires. And have a better state than I do all day. Magistrates and dish laws and to defend them against an attack by the way to uphold and. The religion of my state to lead. And. Then I give my word. We. The National Association of educational broadcasters presents ballot box an examination of the role of the citizen in the modern American city. One in a series of programs titled The Urban
Frontier. But it was by the community education project in San Bernardino Valley College under a grant from the National Association of educational broadcasters. These programs were developed in consultation with faculty members of the University of California Riverside University of Redlands and a Valley College as well as a core of professional civic and business leaders of the San Bernardino Riverside metropolitan area. Each program is designed to raise some of the issues facing the individual who lives in or near the city. What we have now ballot box a look at some of the problems and opportunities of the citizen. Here is where it began. This thing we call democracy. This is Athens. Twenty five centuries ago a city of perhaps 300000. Of
these 40000 our citizens the rest are women outlanders and slaves. In the long history of man and his cities. Athens was but a flash on a distant horizon. Brilliant. Brief. And distant from us both in space and in time. And yet these were the men who dreamed the dream of freedom and equality under law as wild a scheme as man has ever brought to this planet. The dream the forums and even the symbols of Athenian democracy are with us yet we find and use them in the cities we build or those that have been built for us. But let us know the requirements of the dream. What was asked of the citizen of Athens. What were his duties and his pleasures in the government of his city. What were the decisions in which he participated. Why did he bother. We will select a representative citizen of that. His name is Pindar. His father and his mother were free born at 18 he took his oath as a citizen of Athens and he was given his spear and shield. And through three campaigns he has fought for his city as have most of the others he
recognizes as citizens and comrades. He is now 40 of our years of age. He has two sons. And he rises to speak in the City Assembly. He is not an elected official. He speaks as one citizen among others. And it's not my purpose to your question on the other hand. All this expedition to break into examination some of the sassiest he has brought up on this occasion. Our Athenian citizen is an gaged in a debate of war strategy knowing full well that he may be selected to replace the present commander in the field he or any other citizen thought to be qualified for the position. He has fought with his citizen neighbors. Even they know what he has done in the past and those things he might be able to do in the future. Not only did the Athenian debate the issues of war or peace within his city government but also he was concerned with the Monday and details of city housekeeping was flat.
Yes I actually told her like say problem continue as we on our way must expand. It was a lie. And it was not only in his official life as a citizen but the affairs of his city concerned him but also in his social life as well. Here he is in the Agora the open square that served as a university forum meeting place and fish market with the City of that. Day. We may have to lie disbarred. But until that day comes should we not stay on the best of terms with him. Even only to understand him better. That's the way out. Here he is at home of an evening his friends have gathered for an evening of entertainment and conversation. The wind has a little more water in it every day doesn't it. Let's get on with the how are we going to vote on this proposal to ostracize this Aristotle. It seems to me a futile and foolish business. No but I'm prepared to be convinced otherwise.
Why do they have to say up on the affairs of the city about US politics if you please where the interment concerned of the vast majority of the citizens of Athens service to the city be it on a battlefield or in a committee meeting was a central fact in the life of each Athenian. Any question of government or politics came eventually to this test if it concerned Athens. No matter how remotely it concerned him and he was prepared to expend his time his wealth his life in support of his convictions and his city might say not. Yes yes they are. So it was with the city of Athens and the citizens who made her great in the long history of man and his cities. A flash on the distant horizon. Brilliant brief and now distant from us both in time and in space. Here is another citizen in another city a modern American. A man of the metropolis and action today.
Sure. Let's go someplace else. I guess we can get along without a martini. Yeah and I am Got anything else to do they hold an election. I wonder how much all this nonsense cost you and me this is a local election. It involves a bond issue one designed to solve a problem that vexes our citizens troublesome and difficult problem in any modern city. Why don't they do something about this parking mess down here you know you can't find a place to jam your car in on an ATV. I'm going to have to take up riding a motorcycle if I want to get around town here at all. Rest radio handbills talks and service clubs a vast and expensive effort and they have the need to reach our cities. Nonetheless. Like. Today. It is a simple proposition to compare the virtually total participation of a citizen in Athens with the alleged apathy of our modern urban man. This comparison is usually made or implied in much of the getting out the vote propaganda that precedes many of the elections in a city.
You used to democracy to city as you do. You learn to govern. You must know you should know how the comparison is usually presented and figures somewhat sadly. The day after the election for two hundred sixty seven thousand three hundred eighty one voters Damageplan yesterday's election. Or maybe some 160000 were registered and then only 20 percent of them vote. This kind of comparison we would submit is a little unrealistic and more than a little unfair. Two things have changed since the days of Athens. It's a different kind of world and it's a different kind of city we live in. The issues the problems of Athens were resolved in Athens by Athenians. The issue of war and peace for example. That we shall consider this will be our final proclamation and yet today however we are going to have a war. Those birds down in Washington will probably decided that's 3000 miles from here and we all know and they are the Russians tell us the city government. Oh I suppose there they
have some kind of civil defense plan. Maybe not. Or in the matter of schooling of the youth of the city way they must be able to trade and equip the young man show me does. Pass. Oh now there's a state superintendent of schools I think maybe appointed by the governor and we'd better wire him or is it her up at the Capitol. I think the state has something to do with this building program. We're going to find out more in the matter of justice. We said kind of the judgment about the citizens. Oh it was basically him who made the accusation and why. Wow. Well the city has a problem. Yet today the situation is somewhat less than clear cut. And I guess it's a county ordinance. Yeah yeah I know where in the city but but the man says this is a county ordinance and the district attorney he works for the county he's the man that's going to see that it's enforced and
there's a federal statute in a couple of state laws involved for our ATHENIAN There was one government and it was all government. Athens was a city state as was Rome after it as was Florence and others. But no there was one government in one place which made one set of laws. All the powers of our federal state and county governmental organizations. These were exercised by the citizen assembly and the men selected by lot from it as well as those that the assembly elected from its membership from time to time. One government in one place and it was close to the people. It was the people. Today however our urban man is a citizen of what he is a citizen of a nation. And there is a separate national government. He is a citizen of a state and there was a state governor he is a citizen of a county and there is a county government and he may or may not actually legally be a resident of the city itself.
Hi I live over in drama that's out in the county on the way to work I drive through Lenox and I'm well Lenox and it is incorporated place they have their own police force I got to take it there once I just pay a few taxes here. I just work here. The citizen of the city of today is subject to the governmental issues debates wrangles threats and solutions of a vast range of authorities powers that once were held within the boundaries of his city. The Athenian citizenship is participation in government was a simple thing. Heard of the governmental maze that confronts a city dweller today as a complexity of civilization has grown. The city has been stripped of much of its independence. Certain cars have been delegated to other governmental organizations. Thus the citizens of the city of today exists and attempts to function not as a participant and one government but in many. Additionally he must keep himself informed about a host of other political organizations as well as his own. I'm pretty sure having a big election one of these things. That I tell you.
Well whoever's running the Russians this week seems to want trouble. When the Germans go. On with this Indochina fracas. Africa probably hop one of these days one by one with the trying to do down there. But just one thing area it's going to cost us money. Newspapers radio television all combined to make our city dweller feel that he is a citizen of the world. This is one part of his citizenship when put together with the other demands on his time attention the nervous system the various crises that occur in national state and county governments. We can see that the Athenian at a very simple problem is compared to the citizen of today today's urban man may or may not have the function as a citizen of a city as a participate or in city government with what is left of his time attention and nervous system when the other layers of government have finished with him. Here are the Russians the Chinese those form happy boobs in Washington. Some
congressional committee is considering a bill that will put us out of action in the office and this is big liquor scandal up at the state capitol. Some some obscure outdated county ordinance is causing us some real trouble. And I'm supposed to get all excited about whether or not this city's straight department should be brought under civil service and of course as a payer of taxes in the city he should but will he probably not at least not this particular citizen. Note that the Athenian did not have the range of politics nor political institutions to deal with that a modern man had let us also note that in Athens events proceeded literally at the pace of a walk and that the news came in the same way. Suffice it to say it's a little more complicated a job that is given to the citizen today. Elect a man or woman to represent him rather than doing the job himself. As was the case in Athens and then he elects a number of them Representative us all for each of the various governments that function in his name. And finally a host of other governments the world around make decisions that are important to him.
Some of these are reached 10000 miles away for our citizen merely to keep informed of all the decisions after they are reached. This in itself is no small task. I'm in final office today. Ever since the British secret talks carried on would be a stretch to imagine. We wish to differ with complex fast changing and merely to keep information no small task in itself. Then too it's a different city or a citizen of Athens lived and worked raised as children and completely within the area governed by the assembly of Athens. You needed to know the politics of only one city he participated in one political organization. Yet recall his American counterpart. I live over in Drummond and now that's out in the county on the way to work I drive through Lenox and well on Linux I think is incorporated. George works in the core of the metropolis he believes he lives outside the city.
He says that he drives through separate towns on his way from home to work. On paper he is right. There are limits and boundaries and fine legal distinctions to be made from place to place certain historical accidents of the past maybe even drawn all sorts of dividing lines for the metropolitan area. Part of the metropolis may lie in one county the rest and another or others state a nation or boundaries may pass through the city. Towns that were once were separate. They still maintain the fiction of their independence long after they have been swallowed up in the suburban tide that blows over the countryside. All of these divisions exist and are real on paper. Yet for our modern citizen the political organization or disorganization of the metropolis poses a difficult question. He is a citizen of what when. Well when I vote Harry I vote out in drum and that's that's why cases elections are slipped up on me. Sure I'd like to see something done about this parking mess down here. I wish Lennox and pave their streets. Maybe Harmon could clear up their slum that traffic
through Wellman is murder. Everybody's got their problems I guess. Not one government in one place but many in many places. Some of them exist and transact their business virtually unknown to our citizens. Yeah they're always sneaking things by me. Did you ever check your tax bill and wonder what all those other things are. For example did you know that there was a cemetery district Flood Control District operates you know. In Georgia city there are a total of nine such governments that exist within the real limits of the metropolis. For example let us say that there is an airport district. It has its commission appointed by the governor. Then there is the school district presided over by the school board elected at a time other than a regular election. The mosquito abatement district which extends well beyond the limits of the metropolitan area as do the water and flood control districts. These officials are elected also. Then there are separate sewage districts refuse authorities air pollution areas navigation commission. All of these are virtually separate governments independent of the organization that George thinks of when he says City
Hall crowd. They ought to do something about this. Most often there is no single organization to govern the entire area of the city. There may be as many as 15 allegedly independent organizations all trying hard. Our citizen of today soon learns that the city he lives in is a thing of bits and patches. Here is some city here is an area not officially part of the city. A cluster of satellite communities some of which may be incorporated some of which may not seemingly separate trading areas neighborhoods suburban developments or tracks. Agreed each in some degree is dependent on the other but nonetheless on paper they're separate. They officially constituted government of the city. They actually govern only a small part of the total area and it may actually be responsible for even less of a school board for the schools the airport commission for the airports the mosquito abatement district for the mosquitoes and then more of them I guess. And the cemetery district. I don't know what that is in most large cities of the world the situation is the same.
No single governmental organization is responsible for the city as a whole. George lives amid a welter of governments none of which is really responsible for all of the problems for all of the city. If our modern urban man were to attempt to participate in the government of a city in the sense that the Athenian did here's what he'd be up against. I'm sorry but you live in drama and you're not going to cure your next week you know I'm very fortunate because you know what you're going to do you know you're right. Your solution is yours. Second you are the first to get all the way I link image next time it is what you are looking for you talk you see that county are you can help you check with the sheriff's office. However let us ask what would our citizen be up against if we were to attempt to participate participate fully in all of the 15 governments that cover his city as we might set up this way. See there's there's this Harbor commission at 11 o'clock that a break up by known I got a copy of the grand jury report at 2 o'clock and the interim report on sewers that should be out
today. I'll have to check on that on Tuesday. Civil defense mass meeting at 7 o'clock tonight. Scoreboard Many say that's also what 7. Now the missus can take care of that one and as a pinball ordinance in the drum and city council. I have to get my secretary to cover that one. Wednesday is always a good night for meetings no Nonny can't can't make it home tonight. Tonight is smog night. Yeah I know I spent all day but but those were just the preliminary hearings. This is the real fly. Thursday a little business holdover from Monday. A State Highway Commission joint meeting with the harbor an airport commission and has a story airing now. Maybe I can work it in. Friday the round of public hearings mass meetings fact finding surveys rulings and open to the public selections of all the various governments grind on. I see the County Planning Commission the fire district and oh yes yes mosquito the mosquito district meets today.
And when the weekend rolls around go for a picnic. Why honey look at the reports. Here's the interim report on recreation from the city. I've got this highway study the preliminary smog survey and all of those notes you took at that school board hearing and we've got a look. This hospital construction issue which I think sang you know we don't have time to weigh on next. If our citizens were actually to attend all of the meetings of all of the governments all that is of the public meetings if you were to read the reports and if you could fight his way through to the complex and difficult issues involved and then honestly attempt to resolve them there would be precious little time for anything else. I remember trying to figure out who makes the decisions around this town. No I mean who actually does. Now maybe it's the people. Somebody must know from my angle how I can see Harry as a big run around for the guy who actually does come in
with a question. You know the only way to find out anything find it out. Well reasonably for sure is to hire yourself a lawyer here and maybe you better get three or four and then wait about six months. Radio television newspapers all provide our citizen with information and the kind of running who's who and all of the various local government structures in his present state of mind. He's given more information than he honestly cares to deal with in the crises. Yes he is informed. You are right about the traffic jam on the freeway. Man that must have been a little sunset. That's a little slower but you got it. But when it comes to the solution of the problem that produces the crisis. Well that's a different matter. Look every morning I drive in from Drummond That's my home. Now if I figure that there's going to be a traffic jam like that well I just get downtown some other way and I let somebody else worry about these things. Somebody is I guess it's
you know it's bad enough they'll do something about it. Eventually somebody will get around to those streets and Lennox and always has been a slum. Maybe they like it that way. And if the state builds a highway around Wellman Well maybe they will anyway. What do I have to get excited about. Meanwhile the city roars on around our urban man unplanned uncontrolled unpredictable. George may not be reacting apathetically at all but he says much. Today. Are you sure this may actually be in some cases an intelligent and sophisticated reaction to an impossible situation. If our citizens were to attend all of the various meetings and deliberations of the various elected bodies needed to run his city or for that matter if he were merely to read their reports. There could be little time for anything else. The wonder of it all may be not that
there are so few who actually know and follow the affairs of their local governments but rather that there are so many. The role of a citizen at least as it appears to George Martin perhaps makes too many demands and deals too little in the way of satisfactions. I was on a park committee out in Drummond for useless 3 months I never spent. We went at it hammer and tong but did we get anywhere. Well we got a hearing. We told our story and they told us and that was the last of it nothing ever did come of it. Course we still need to park it at least we think we do. I get that runaround again. Life Two things have changed since the days of Athens. It's a different world actually. And it's a different city than many times it is like here. Have you kept your promise and see that county. Sorry can't help you with the sheriff's office.
If modern man is going to function as an informed and responsible citizen. A few of the Athenians notions might be handy for example. Athens was a city state. Every issue before this all happens people have a right to be heard far out there and media surroundings are a lot of people who simply wish to be rather than sell it. Thank God that not US soldiers are a lot worse. We stayed as a man of God. This. Is where you can listen to. And help solve each other's problem. That was one government. It was all government and it was close to the people. We would doubt that the modern city can ever be organized as simply as was Athens.
However is it not possible that a metropolitan area could have a single government one that covered all of the area one that served all of the people to be sure. Certain powers might well be reserved to the neighborhood or to the various communities within the city. Nonetheless might it not be possible to construct a single political organization in place of the multitude of task forces that inhabit the metropolis in the name of government. Then there is the question of the gap between city hall crowd. They have to do so. The gap between the names and the pictures of the people who seem to be the government of the city and people like you and me Harry. We think about this bird. We have ideas. Some of them might be. Otherwise. Our modern man will continue to view the government of his city in terms of they those others who run the city and when they misbehave really misbehave then every once in a while I think it's a good thing to clean them all out and get a new crowd in there and when they get sour Well maybe the old ones of reform the construction of a
single open knowable government for the metropolitan area will not be enough to guarantee the participation of the citizen. However it can make his task a little easier. The other part of the job will be done when the citizen both knows and feels that government is a thing to be seen in terms of we when he and his friends together have available to them simple and regular means of entering into the political life of the community. You know we first moved in a new track you know we we all got together we're going to have a council get some get some representation somewhere and then we got going on this park thing. Pretty quick we found out we were going alright going nowhere. Neighborhood or district councils or assemblies may or may not be the answer in the Machine Age city of today. If such assemblies can be connected directly with the decision making process then they may be one possibility. And there are others. The Chamber of Commerce the larger service clubs even occasionally the unions are heard in the discussion of city issues. However even in these organizations the
citizen is represented at third or fourth hand. And what of the vast majority of citizens who do not belong to these chosen organizations. How can they be heard easily quickly and how can they speak among friends when they have legitimate political arguments to be raised. It may be that there is no single easy economy sized answer. It may be that there is no answer at all. If so we can expect our allegedly apathetic citizen to be with us for quite some time. Election Day I assure you. Oh I suppose we don't have to have a martini we can we can get lunch somewhere else. You know when they haven't got anything else to do they hold an election. Mm. You have been listening to ballot box on examination of the role of the citizen in the modern
American metropolis. This has been one in a transcribed series of programs titled The Urban Frontier but used by the Community Education Project at San Bernardino Valley College. These programs were developed in consultation with faculty members of the University of California Riverside the University of Redlands and of San Bernardino Valley College as well as a car a professional business and so the leaders of the San Bernardino Riverside metropolitan area. Written and directed by John Harper ballot box was recorded in the studios of KBC are on the Valley College campus the narrator's where Paul Lynde and John Staples engineering and Jim Hammond. This is the end E.B. Radio Network.
Urban frontier
Ballot box
Producing Organization
San Bernardino Valley College
KVCR (Radio station : San Bernardino, Calif.)
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
The citizen: Participation; voting; politics, etc.
Series Description
Each program in this series considers one of the major life activities people carry on in an urban setting. The format is narrative with dramatized interludes.
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Social Issues
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Director: Harter, John
Narrator: Lynn, Paul
Producing Organization: San Bernardino Valley College
Producing Organization: KVCR (Radio station : San Bernardino, Calif.)
Writer: Harter, John
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 56-20-7 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:30
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Chicago: “Urban frontier; Ballot box,” 1956-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed July 20, 2024,
MLA: “Urban frontier; Ballot box.” 1956-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. July 20, 2024. <>.
APA: Urban frontier; Ballot box. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from