The Business of the City: Miscellaneous

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

City Council: Clarifications

From my first council meeting in January 2011--ready to serve!

Some of the speakers at Monday night's city council meeting came before the governing body with questions and concerns about a number of items--some of them about proposals put forth by the administration, and some about road paving and bad publicity on national television partly engendered by a poorly reported, biased story on CNN, compounded by some unfortunate comments made by the mayor. It is important to clarify that the governing body cannot be involved in the day-to-day operations of the city--our city charter precludes that. On many of the questions put forth, the mayor and her administration are the only entities who can properly answer questions. I am in agreement with other residents that we need answers to those questions. 

The council has repeatedly asked the mayor to be forthcoming about proposals that she has put forward. We need information before moving forward on any legislation. Those who regularly attend our meetings (or who have the fortitude to watch them on television) can see on the record that we have constantly and consistently asked the administration to provide comprehensive and clear data on projects (ex: ShotSpotter and the Armory proposal, as two recent items) before moving forward with allocating funds so that we can fulfill our responsibility to the residents of our city.

Regarding these two proposals: 

1) Armory: the city council had asked for a written proposal on the Armory from the administration--nothing has come to us, and no mention was made of the Armory last night. It is the administration's responsibility to the public to present a clear and comprehensive proposal on this. The administration said something would be forthcoming. Thus far (and the administration has been pushing this "paperless" deal for several months now), we have received nothing--not a single sheet of paper with any facts and figures about the pros and cons of the city getting involved in this project, cost breakdowns, etc.

2) ShotSpotter: At last month's Public Safety Committee meeting, I asked the Public Safety Director to provide me with statistics and other data about the ShotSpotter--thus far, as I have said before, we have only received marketing materials from the vendor who wants the contract--that is unacceptable, as the administration has been pushing for this company for nearly a year now. Why on earth have we not received aything? Last week, the council again requested objective data about ShotSpotter, and the administration promised to have it for us. Once again, nothing was brought before us. UPDATE: The information requested by the city council on ShotSpotter should be forthcoming by the end of this month, per a note to me from Director Hellwig.I think, though, that it is up to the mayor to make sure that the Acting City Administrator keeps the council updated on any delays in information requested. I still have not received any information on the Armory situation.  

Just as the council has done, residents need to press the mayor to provide this information--otherwise, their frustrations at the council are misdirected. I am not passing the buck here, but we cannot consider "proposals" that are not presented to us in a clear, comprehensive, and professional manner--it would be irresponsible to do so.  

I understand the public's frustration, as I often share it, so I urge you to call and email the mayor's office and ask for the information that you deserve to have so that you can let us (the city council) know your thoughts on proposed or pending legislation.  

I am in regular contact with many constituents about issues related to our city--including some of those residents who regularly come before the mic. I have to admit, though, that I don't hear from others--some wait until they have an opportunity to come before the microphone to outline their concerns. That is fine, especially since many of the items they are speaking of should be directed to the city administrator, but it could also be helpful if they call or email in advance (if they are able to do so), because sometimes their concerns can be addressed more quickly. I will continue to push for professionalism in terms of presentation, and clarification on any and all proposals.

Feel free to copy me on any correspondence as you await a response--that is the only way that I will know how effectively and efficiently the administration is dealing with your concerns. 

All best,


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