More transparency needed at City Hall
Last updated 2/12/2020 at 12:06pm
I hear you.
I want to say thank you to all those who wrote into the council after the mayor's proposal to accept the affordable housing grant passed slimly by 4-3.
I heard your concerns. It was loud and clear. Every single letter was vehemently against the grant. As I replied back to many of those who wrote in, the council was unaware that the mayor was going after this grant last year. For the last several years this has never been mentioned as a priority of our residents nor of the past or current council who represent you.
It must be stated that there is a proper public process that should have been followed that could have resulted in a different outcome. The proper process would have been for the mayor to inform us of her agenda. To then bring it to a committee work session so we could flesh out the proposal together. Not only would this have allowed the public to be informed, but would allow the newly elected and existing councilmembers to talk through the consequences and purpose of this grant. In a public setting we could listen and learn so that we could make an informed decision. We were denied even a breath of space to do that.
It was sprung on us and left us, just like you, in the dark, scrambling for information and intent. I found myself apologizing and validating your concerns much like I did when the $700,000+ long sought-after grant for the Japanese Gulch was ripped away from us for a $400,000 grant to fund a park that was in fact already funded by the council. All this in the dark of the night for some silent political agenda. It has been said that history repeats itself.
I know transparency and information matter to you.
As a council, I believe it is our greatest responsibility to make sure our government is transparent and our resident's voices are heard. Our role as government officials should not be to do what we desire, then explain and ask your forgiveness later. In the future, if the mayor decides to engage in a more transparent process, I will welcome a chance for constructive and collaborative dialogue. I will always remain open to that.
Why am I stating this here?
Because I want the residents to know that as a collective council we have been transparent. Every councilmember seems to have such a willingness to work for you. I have witnessed that just this past weekend at our council retreat. I believe you have a council that holds good intent.
I hope that this is the last time this year that you are excluded from the opportunity to weigh in before a motion. I hope this is the last time the council is excluded from time to gather information.
I hope that council President Emery and Vice President Kneller will help make the transition to leadership smoothly, that they guard the council agenda so that there is always time and opportunity to work through the pros and cons of any subject brought to the table. No matter who's political will it may be.
I believe we need more civil discourse, not less. Your priorities and concerns deserve to be given light, and your voice deserves to be heard.
Please keep writing in and sharing your views. It is such a pleasure to work for you.
Just one councilmember's view. Anna Rohrbough