Monday, January 4, 2010

Editorial: Mayor's meeting plan makes sense

The unnamed Courier editor thinks it makes sense to cut Council study sessions. This is no surprise to anyone who's watched this column with half an eye open for over a week. Both the Mayor and the editor seem to have little respect for public process.

The Mayor is betting that the public generally doesn't care to know anything about the issues that come before Council, and won't miss the study sessions in which the issues and concerns are aired, giving a week for them to soak in and for affected people to respond. I expect he's underestimating the number of people who faithfully tune in to watch the meetings on access TV throughout the week.

He's betting that ordinary citizens, nonprofits and other players in the community outside City Hall really don't have that much of interest to bring to the table, and Council can do a fine job with just the analyses that staff provides and their own bodacious sit-upons.

This strikes me as just the sort of rookie mistake we were promised would not happen because Marlin is supposedly so experienced. Whether or not it's practical in some aspects, it's a really dumb public-relations move. In these more charged and complex times, Council should be doing more public meetings and outreach, not less.

This is a way bigger town than it was in Marlin's time on Council, there are a lot more interests and more at stake in Council's decisions. Moving immediately to reduce public input and deliberation bodes very poorly for the new regime.

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