Unsanctioned01/01/2015 - Editorial by Renee Wilkins and Steve Van HornIs it the Zombie Apocalypse? OK – Maybe not, but the general weirdness ongoing at city hall has us wondering. Here are some reasons we contemplate the question:
The word “unsanctioned” has been used by some Governing Body members and has appeared in several recent editorials in reference to Councilor Wilkins’ Unit 10 working group. The use of this word in such a context should give us all pause. While there is no rule prohibiting the formation or use of a working group, characterizing it as “unsanctioned” infers it is unauthorized and/or illegitimate. This unfortunate mischaracterization will support future false accusations against Governing Body members that dare to engage with constituents outside of the new city staff managed special committee system.
For example, Councilor Robinson did not go through the special committee system or seek an official pre-approval to work on her proposed changes to the city ordinance allowing dogs in all city parks. Since this work is “unsanctioned” should we infer she’s “going rogue”?
While the new Governing Body flounders through its first year, we need to look past the new special committee system propaganda. Do we want leaders who work hard for their constituents and are willing to stick their necks out to find solutions; or do we want people who submit to “sanctioned” special committee and/or staff recommendations? Some new councilors, who for years railed against the recommendations of city staff, are now telling the public we should always trust staff because they are “the experts”.
As individuals, we like most of the city staffers we have come to know; but we’re also smart enough to understand that they have their own ideas and agendas for governing the city. They are not the enemy, but they are sometimes an opponent of the people that were actually elected to govern; It remains prudent for elected Governing Body members to verify and question what they are told by staff.
During the city budget meetings held in May and June, the new Governing Body ignored two Councilors’ predictions and warnings about staff’s overly optimistic economic projections. They accepted staff’s recommendations and now we see a shortfall in GRT (recurring) revenue.
What does the future hold? Well, the intentional misuse of that word “unsanctioned” probably provides us with a clue to what’s ahead. As the new Governing Body members struggle to find their own voice, expect more propaganda than real progress, more zombie-like group think than real leadership, and more time wasted on finding ways to control the Governing Body minority.
And we wonder… who is really doing the sanctioning?