I have been attending city council meetings regularly. I have not spoken during the citizen forums because I reside outside of the city limits. Since my husband’s family owned and farmed this land for years, we decided to retire there.
At the recent council meeting the rules were changed and personal attacks and naming names was allowed. I sat back in shock while non residents directed negative comments at certain council members.
After hearing a citizen comment at a council meeting last year, I along with a number of other people urged the person to run for office. I had faith in her intelligence, honesty and willingness to speak out and her past service in other organizations. Although I could not vote, I offered my support and have continued to attend council meetings since the election.
The mayor stated she had been asked to relax the rules for over 2 1/2 hours and people repeated the same messages over and over. The council could not begin its business until that length of time. Unfortunately, very few people stuck it out, as did I, till 11:30 p.m. If they had they would have witnessed the council taking care of business, with several votes of 10-0 and several 7-3.
An important proposed city ordinance was read for the first reading, to allow chickens in the city, but just a handful of people were still there to hear about it.
The council voted a $35,000 payment to a TIF district business as an incentive for a building expansion. This will not be repaid. One of the speakers during the citizen’s forum has been the recipient of several hundred thousand dollars in the same incentives, again, which do not have to be repaid. Oh, the city administrator will tell you it will be repaid out of taxes, but the taxes would be due even if this advance cash was not given.
If you have not been attending meetings, please come and hear for yourself.
Alderman Rose spoke in the citizen’s forum and pointed out that people who work for the city and people who work for the big businesses are afraid to comment. One speaker actually stated that “I am affluent.” I don’t know how much money one has to have to be affluent but each voter is equal. It’s just that the little people are afraid to speak out. About 45 people of the over 100 in attendance spoke. The council members under attack were voted in by 700 votes. This indicates people do want change.