Got a question for the city? Use ‘The Source’

Travis McMullen - Community Columnist

I’ve always maintained that communication was the key to effective governance. That’s always been true in the past and it will always be true in the future. That’s why I was glad to see just before the Missouri State Fair that the City of Sedalia was starting a service called “The Source” where people could ask questions directly to qualified city representatives, or at least the people assigned with checking e-mails and answering the source phone that day.

You can send your question to [email protected] or 660-827-3000 (Ext.145) but you must also provide your first and last name. Seemingly you could just make up a name, but you should probably at least lift one from an obscure piece of media or make it up entirely. You’ll probably get a better chance at a timely and correct answer if you do provide your real name, though.

So the City should be commended – they seem to get too much guff about not listening to the good people of Sedville. They take the time to send out surveys and then post the results of the surveys that they get and all of a sudden they’re getting criticized for a small sample size. The City can’t control who bothers to take the time to send in their surveys. These survey results don’t match my personal opinions, so they must not be valid!

But they seem to have a good thing going with The Source. It’s not needlessly complicated: send in a question and we’ll do what we can to answer it. Though I bet they’d get a lot more questions, or at least a lot more interesting questions if they provided an anonymous question line. Anonymity emboldens even the meekest person to say things they normally wouldn’t dare to say. I guess there’s always [email protected] for that if you’ve got a side e-mail address or know how to utilize a temporary one.

The name is highly appropriate, but it is a little mysterious. Frequently the search for the source of something drives the plot of our favorite movies, book and shows. Where is the source of the illegal arms shipments, the water, the radiation, the cell phone signal or the pink slime running through the sewers below our feet?

“The Source” is the name of at least 5 different albums, three different films, a sculpture, a painting, a novel, a Canadian electronics retailer, a food hall in Denver, a defunct radio network and a long-running hip-hop music and culture magazine and their associated awards show. Maybe if we mentally insert “Sedalia” in front of source it will prevent any confusion, not that there was much of that to begin with.

In the far future the elaborate sentient computer system that rules The State Fair City might just draw its origins all the way back to a little service called “The Source” and the unfortunate series of events that unfolded when they attempted to automate it. It’s like it was learning our language and our ways based on the questions that we sent in!

So, maybe not. But we should at least consider the future of The Source. Maybe some day there will be a simple online form to fill out rather than having to send an e-mail from scratch. The concept of sending an e-mail is still strange to some. Maybe there will be a Source show on a local radio station or on KMOS where people can send in their questions live. Maybe we’ll all be equipped with a Source machine that is dedicated to sending and receiving questions and answers. Maybe we’ll be able to communicate with the source via technology enhanced telepathy. The future of the service depends on just how much we choose to utilize it. If we do send in our questions at a brisk pace they are going to be forced to put more effort into considering the feedback of the citizens and they will probably find a way to make it work even better.

Or maybe it will just continue as-is for a while, providing the answers that people are looking for. That would be fine with me. In any case, I look forward to reading some more of the Source submissions, both the serious and the not so serious.

Travis McMullen

Community Columnist

Travis McMullen is a longtime Sedalia resident who shares his views on the city through his weekly Democrat column.

Travis McMullen is a longtime Sedalia resident who shares his views on the city through his weekly Democrat column.

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