You are getting sleepy…very, very sleepy…
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Oh, the hypnotic effects of bureaucracy…
Three hour town meetings are notorious for turning engaged residents into sleepwalkers. But if you consider the stories behind the projects that are up for vote ahead of time, it’s easier to fight bureaucratic hypnosis.
While I nearly fell victim to the power of the pocket watch being swung in front of me last night, I came prepared to duke it out with my eyelids if necessary and remain engaged. Here are a few observations that stood out. (See meeting minutes, once they are available, for votes.)
The Car Salesman Approach of Town Hall
Despite the slow pace of meetings, there sure are a lot of issues rushed to a vote with little scrutiny. While procedures drone on in slow motion, ironically the rally cry is: “We need to move quickly… this is time-sensitive!” Numerous times a vote was about to be taken with hardly a question asked, until commissioner Longtin interjected and forced the issue. Watching the commission process seems a lot like watching a car salesman going for the close. “Hurry, hurry, this deal is for one day only! A buy this good will never come your way again! You must act now! Sign here, sign now. Don’t worry about the lifetime payment…” but discussion and debate of the ultimate project costs and obligations are minimal.
Thank you, Commissioner Longtin for continually doing your job by questioning, clarifying and scrutinizing each item for vote. Why is it that Commissioners Hockman and Longtin are doing most of digging and asking. These matters involve money and large sums of it. Intense scrutiny should be the norm across the dais. I would like to challenge every member of the Commission to follow suit.
Steve Hockman brought up the seizure of the Crown Princess by the Town of Lake Park but there was no ensuing discussion and no sense that anything was going to be done about it. Was proper procedure used? Who is accountable? Who will investigate? What are the repercussions? Will this come up for further consideration or will it quietly slip away? What are the restrictions on the town manager’s power, and when questionable actions such as this are taken, what is our recourse as citizens? We are curious.
Grants: Our Town’s Sacred Cash Cow?
(Watch for an upcoming two part post on the topic of Free Money.)
Despite the shadow cast over the Eyes on Park Grant contract during its discussion, it was pushed for passage. I am grateful to those who probed with the kind of questions that the thinking people of our town are asking. Why aren’t all the commissioners doing the same? Commissioners, you are our voices. I was especially grateful for Commissioner Longtin’s reminder that tax payer money is our money, no matter how it is redistributed back to us. (paraphrase) Thank you!
The Public Speaks/Will Tinker Bell Show Up?
The most engaging part of a town meeting is when its citizens stand up and speak out. Bravo to each resident who brought their concerns to our attention and held our town leaders accountable.
I would like to commend Mayor Dubois for his interest in following up with resident’s concerns, and Commissioner Longtin, for inserting some of the residents’ concerns into other discussions as the meeting progressed in order to find a way to address them. Good work!
Even so, there has been some concern that the public comment procedure is inadequate. Generally, a response or answer is not provided to resident comments and no significant give-and-take is allowed by the commission. The resident must speak hurriedly and hope that Tinkerbell will show up to sprinkle fairy dust over the dais so that somehow, someday the request might take flight. No definite action points are offered, and due to restraints of procedure, the resident is left wondering:”Why bother?”
Even so, public comments are extremely valuable. They keep all of us informed and help us hold our leaders accountable. Keep speaking, keep asking. Wonder aloud if you must. This is our responsibility, because Tinker Bell is known to be a tad unreliable.
The founding members of Lake Park Citizens Requiring Accountability from Politicians (C.R.A.P.) created a noticeable presence at the meeting. They remind the rest of us that we are not alone. If you would like to hold Lake Park Town Hall accountable and would enjoy the strength found in numbers, you are invited to join C.R.A.P. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call toll free: #877-500-6560.
Commissioner Rumsey suggested a plan to “Bring Back the Boom” (4th of July fireworks) through private donations. There was some head wagging in the audience, and while I don’t know the reasons for their opposition, I too have a concern. I do like the idea of people getting together to make something happen and am grateful for Commissioner Rumsey’s consideration of the outcry about this. Yet, I also feel the town should cut the budget elsewhere in response to what they admitted last night is something residents are concerned about.
I also want to give kudos to Commissioner Stevens for voting against a motion to which he may have felt obligated due to loyalties within the commission. His hesitation on the matter twice gave a visible indication that it was a source of dilemma. However, his vote went a long way toward establishing credibility with many who are watching to see if he will represent them or other interests. Also, thank you, Commissioner Longtin, once again, for your tenacity on this vote as on others, to take a stand for what is right, and to step in to do and say the hard things despite the pressure to go along to get along. Principles matter, so thank you.
Congratulations to our newly elected Mayor, James Dubois and Commissioner Tim Stevens. We look forward to working together in the days to come.
To those who showed up, participated and watched at home, thank you and keep vigilant!
You may not agree with my perspective or you may have something to add. We’d love to hear from you. Tell us how you feel about what is going on in Lake Park. Please leave us your comments and concerns below.