It has been a long hard road to repeal the breed ban in Aurora Colorado. There have many attempts to have the council address the issue via letter writing campaigns, requests to the council directly and other tactics, which would be best described as “frontal assaults.”
One of the biggest things that tends to trip up efforts such as this is the inability to remain factual, letting emotion override reasonable discourse. We see this time and time again, Broward County Florida this past summer and Yakima Washington this past week are just a couple of examples from recently. Officials say that the process is not respected adequately and the result is often the same in every municipality, legislators shut down to the conversation, and dig in to the status quo.
Aurora is at a tipping point. The council has pledged to give the issue thoughtful examination, and word from inside Aurora shows that this is not an empty promise.
ColoRADogs, a local advocacy group that has been working towards a repeal, has published a letter for those in the area about what is taking place behind the scenes and what is needed to help continue the discussion in a productive manner.
Keeping thoughtful discourse open requires several things in this case specifically. The issue will be addressed in January 2014, but the council members are wearing thin on having the regular city business interrupted. At this time, people are being asked to withhold public commentary at the council meetings until the issue is brought forward in January, as this will put the issue in jeopardy. For residents (and residents ONLY) who wish to write, one of the council members has made some suggestions for keeping correspondence productive.
Remember that this is a political process. When we engage in the political process, we must attempt to think like a politician. The “frontal assault” tactics have failed before and advocates are trying to keep this from happening again.
“Addressing BSL in Aurora and my conversation with Councilwoman Peterson
I apologize for the delay of my post. I have spent considerable time drafting a post that will convey the importance of the CM Renie Peterson’s suggestions and concerns, while remaining sensitive to the urgency and concerns of fellow animal advocates. All I can do in that regard is assure you all that this subject is deeply personal to me, as well, and I am conveying this information in attempt to preserve the possibility of repealing Aurora’s Restricted Breed Ordinance and creating a model responsible ownership community for other cities to emulate.
By accomplishing these two things, and preserving the line of communication we create in doing so, we can achieve more safe and humane communities across the state, improve shelter conditions, reduce shelter intake, and encourage shelters to save lives through behavioral programs and rescue partnerships. That’s another post, let’s get to Renie’s concerns and suggestions.
CM Peterson shared with me that repealing the ban is attainable only if we keep the line of communication open by respecting the council, the process and the city of Aurora. Many of the members of council and the Mayor want to give this issue the time it deserves. This will be proposed in January, provided council does not feel regular city business is disrupted before then. Renie did share that members of council feel bombarded with a profoundly negative message, by non-constituents and some constituents, at the regular city council meetings and this is already wearing on them.
I would ask you to forgive my bluntness, but we simply do not have the opportunity to mince words at this point. It has come to my attention that some advocates plan on addressing council again this month. Please respect the time of council and the fact they have already agreed to hear us out in January and give them this time to finish their current projects for 2013 and begin their reorganizing for 2014. Addressing them again this month only serves to break down the relationship.
If advocates continue the negativity and disrespect towards their time and their city the proposal to repeal will be dropped at any time, and we currently face the very real possibility of not being allowed the opportunity for discussion. For those of you there in 2011, you know the difficulties that presents It’s not very effective trying to coach a council member through facial expressions from the sidelines. We need to be in on the conversation. Change happens through productive dialogue and it is up to us to see that we have that opportunity.
Today I sat in a jury room for hours watching other potential jurors being asked questions first by the prosecutor who brought them in by empowering them. Then I watched a (I presume new) defense attorney tear them down through her own style of questioning which bordered on accusatory, as if they were the prosecution’s witness. The jurors visibly became defensive and lost focus on the questions as they focused on their new-found hatred for this defense attorney. Council members are like jurors. Win them over! Make them want to be on your side! They don’t owe you or I anything, their duty is to do what is best for the city and their constituents as a whole. We can provide the knowledge and the tools, council will make the decisions.
So let’s lighten this up a little and get to the fun part! Suggestions! How we can win them over! While you may have heard some of these from me before, the general suggestions are straight from an Aurora Councilwoman.
GRATITUDE! Yes, you can be sincere and do this. Remember despite some of the same challenges, progress was made in 2011, thank Council for continuing to work with us and thank them for choosing to move the proposal forward. Please be sure to thank CM Renie Peterson for bringing this to council.
KEEP IT LOCAL! Like I said before, council wants to hear from their constituents but if they start seeing the majority of messages are not from constituents they will not have the time to read and the message will be lost altogether. If you do not live here but want to help , recruit Aurora citizens or a highly regarded expert (star power, anyone?)
KEEP IT POSITIVE! What? How? Actually, it’s not that hard if you think about how exciting and fun it would be to create a model responsible ownership community in our very own city. Focus on the future possibilities. If you have been personally effected, that is important to share that experience, and this is not an attempt to marginalize your experience. We will share the facts of how BSL has been unsuccessful but the overall message should be positive as we explore how reversing the ban will reflect well on the city.
SUPPORT SUPPORT SUPPORT! Let the council know you support their efforts spent exploring the repeal of the ban, that you support the repeal, you support reckless owner laws, you support a safer and more humane Aurora, you support the Animal Care and Control in working with citizens and supporting organizations. I will say it again. SUPPORT!
Thank you for reading this through, happy advocating and as always, Take C.A.R.E!
Community Outreach Director