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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A "Collaborative Council"?

Just a thought after tonite's debate on Public Comment at Shoreline City Council.

The Council was attempting to make the public comment more "effective" and "enhanced", by removing about half of the total public comment periods and by prohibiting "political speech" for candidates. 

They are on now IMHO on the fast track to a slippery slope to a double half-pipe flip to 
the place where a snow ball doesn't have a chance, if you know what I mean!  

Many councilmembers stressed their "collaborative" intentions and how this action of limiting public comment would now somehow improve their interactions with the public. Fortunately 3 councilmembers
saw the absurdity of this argument.

Well to Shoreline City Council and everyone who cares..... is the purpose of our local democracy to have a "collaborative council"?  Is it our purpose to have everyone singing "Kumbaya" on Monday nights?  Is it to shorten the meetings and be more efficient? Well, it seems to me that on all counts tonite you failed
•The meeting ended after 11pm (I actually left unlike my usual stamina, but they were stuck talking about "parking" at CRISTA and that has to be the most deadly boring subject )
• All votes or "consensus" measures were 4/3 votes in different arrangements.
• The "collaborators" were united in division and agreed to disagree. Is that "Kumbaya" I heard or Discord?

The best statement of the night came from Councilmember Doris McConnell in the discussion about public comment. Though I don't have the exact quote, for that will take a trip to the City Clerk, she was heard to say to the effect, "At Business meetings, the councilmembers have pretty much made up their minds on votes ahead of time, so the public comment will not make much of a difference!!!!!!!!!!" Yikes! 

To me vigorous debate is what Democracy looks like. Public involvement and contribution to the debate and process is what Democracy looks like. Passionate expressions of belief is what Democracy looks like.  Protest and argument and political action is what Democracy looks like!

"Collaborator" is a word I recall from WWII movies when describing occupied France.

Final votes tonite on Effective Public Comment: (Question was divided into A. Public Comment and B. Political Speech)
• 4-2-1 McGlashan,Tracey, Hall and McConnell - yea
Roberts and Eggen - Nay,  Scott Abstention; 
• and 4-3  McGlashan,Tracey, Hall and McConnell - yea,
Roberts, Scott and Eggen - Nay.

Can we stick up for the public interest now?
Thank you - Chris Roberts, Chris Eggen and Terry Scott

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