I attended a city council meeting tonight. It opened with a public forum time during which interested citizens were invited to voice their opinions about the proposed property tax rate increase. I donâ€™t recall the mayor also inviting questions, though he and the rest of the city council did their best to answer all questions that were asked.
Iâ€™d like to share some observations from that public forum session.
- It was clear that one citizenâ€™s questions were focused on making sure everyone in attendance recognized his intelligence and experience. In doing so, he was also questioning and challenging the experience and intelligence of the city council and mayor. I wouldnâ€™t expect this to be an effective method or persuasion. In his case, it was not.
- Another citizen repeatedly accused the council of not having made their budget recommendations available to the public. Though he was told repeatedly that he was welcome to a copy of the proposed budget, as was any citizen, he continued to ask questions based on presumptions about the budget he hadnâ€™t seen in direct contradiction to how the council had explained the budget.
- Among several citizens there was a penchant for questioning the character of the city councilmen because they were not in agreement with those asking the questions. This is common at higher levels of politics, but I would have thought it foreign to small town local politics where we know each other outside the council chambers.
While I have to admit that several on the city council, including the mayor and city manager are personal friends of mine, I believe my assessment is fair. They did answer questions, many times the same question over and over again. The trouble was they didnâ€™t give the answers those asking wanted to hear.
Which is kind of refreshing from elected officeholders.