This article is one of a series of editorial articles that express personal
opinions and views. They are written with no pretensions to be error free. I
will gladly correct substantial errors of fact. My opinions can change,
depending upon my awareness and understanding of changes in factual
information. It is my intent to remain focused on specific public issues,
regarding the personalities involved. For all I know, all the characters are
saints, concerning their private lives and other public business...
Changes may be requested by e-mailing the details to email@example.com
Manistique resident, Doug Erickson, intended to submit the following, as an editorial letter, to the Pioneer Tribune newspaper. Recently, the local grapevine suggested that, for some reason yet to be revealed, the City of Manistique intended to address some of Mr. Erickson's concerns, instead of ignoring them, as usual. As the submission date for an editorial letter to the Pioneer Tribune had passed, Erickson requested that I publish his concerns, here, before the City waved its magic wand to render moot and neutralize Erickson's specific concerns.
As one thoroughly disgusted with the lack of due process regarding important City of Manistique business, and as one who has witnessed too much whimsical city government by administrative and elected despots, instead of well reasoned government by an elected council representing the general public interest, I have more than a passing interest in Erickson's concerns, and offer my perspective, after his stated concerns quoted as follows:
To a significant extent, the consequences of the personal and arbitrary choices of various City of Manistique and Schoolcraft County public officials to muzzle public comment, evade public accountability, and make private, public decisions, prompted me to create this web site.
There is nothing like the understanding that the concerns of the governed, too often, mean little to nothing to elected officials in a representative democracy; not worthy of acknowledgement, let alone serious consideration.
There is nothing like the necessity to purchase the local newspaper to find an unlikely and improbable "newspeak" response to an ignored question or issue raised at a public meeting.
There is nothing like the whimsical and predatory interpretation and enforcement of existing city ordinances that is contrary to the spirit and specific wording of those ordinances, and related state and federal legislation.
There is nothing like the necessity for Joe and Jane Public to record their public business conversations, with public officials and employees, because, too often, when dealing with deceitful public officials, it is the only record that can substantiate a defense against official ignorance, deliberate deceit, denial, and lies, that are used to mislead, intimidate, and prey upon individuals, and threaten the general public's quality of life.
A recent Pioneer Tribune editorial of 06/25/09 lamented the gross absence of public participation and discussion of important local government issues. The paper's independent editorial was related to two recent responses I received from city residents, regarding my question of "Where were you, and others, when public business X was discussed?". The answers were, to paraphrase, "We are afraid. An active presence at public meetings is not worth the risk of likely vindictive consequences." and "Why waste my life? They will do what they want and decided, already, regardless of my concerns, voiced or otherwise."
It is anathema to open government to base public decisions upon private consideration of private input and influence, from vested private and public interests. A recent example, at the Schoolcraft County Board of Commissioners level, regarded the consequences of purchasing a "search and rescue" boat for the Schoolcraft County Sheriff Department. Commissioner LaFoile's public solicitation of private input regarding public business helped to stifle and render impotent meaningful participation in government by those members of the public who have no vested personal interest in the private "public" business at hand, but must pay the consequential bills.
As a hallmark example of the broken process of local government, after Commissioner LaFoille solicited private input at that recent public board meeting, and after two previous county board meetings at which the majority of board members were overwhelmingly against the purchase for stated serious and relevant financial and liability reasons, with the notable exception of Commissioner Gerry Zellar, the board chose to sanction the purchase, and more funding, as if the majority had lied through their teeth about their prior voiced concerns.
My perspective is that of a member of the unwashed masses with the wrong pedigree, labelled by Mayor David Peterson at a city council meeting, along with a few other outspoken individuals, as "contrary to the best interests of the city". On that personal opinion basis, others and I were denied, at the same council meeting, by him alone, the opportunity to serve on a public board for which the city solicited applicants, as the other council members approved of his dictatorial decision by their default silence.
That perspective includes my dim view of the recent Manistique D.D.A. and City Council approval of building an ~ $1 million road, with city utilities, with public money, for a real estate developer and local business interests, while 15 teachers have been laid off due to lack of funding due, in part, to the money spent on that road.
Instead of an impartial engineer's opinion, or recommendation from a learned spokesperson of the Manistique D.D.A., I witnessed Corey Barr, licensed to operate the city's water and wastewater facilities, promote and recommend to Manistique City Council the change of the new street location and ~$150,000 cost to a new location and ~$800,000+ cost, after which presentation the council approved the project's new location and costs. How Barr became the arbiter of building a city street that enhanced, significantly, the value of a major adjacent property owned by a family member, is beyond my comprehension, within the context of ethical public business.
Earlier this year, I witnessed City Manager Sheila Aldrich state to other members of the Manistique D.D.A. Board, that the extension of Catteragus Street to meet the desires of the real estate project developer, Moyle, would cost ~$150,000 with a tax capture payback period of two years from Moyle's development, based upon her claimed $75,000 per year figure. I considered her claim, as I heard it, as nothing more than "blue sky" promotional fantasy. I had a reason to suspect, at the time, that D.D.A. Board member Rick Demars shared my spectator's opinion, because he stated that he would be a lot more comfortable to see Moyle's claims in writing, as represented by Aldrich. His suggestion was ignored by other D.D.A. Board members.
There was no doubt in my mind that there was far more private influence, than public, that resulted in the Manistique City Council's approval of the project, and, by implication, City Manager Aldrich's "mana from heaven" nonsense concerning tax revenue due from the project. There is no doubt, in my mind, that the Manistique Downtown Destruction Authority is living up to its general reputation of promoting the business interests of a few at the general expense of the public and Manistique's downtown area.
If you still think there is nothing amiss, why, with a Manistique city budget ~1/3 of the Escanaba city budget does Manistique have a D.D.A. budget ~10 times as large, the consequences of which, in general, do not show downtown, and the tax revenues captured are, as a consequence, denied other county entities in a financial bind? Why, over the past few years, has the City of Manistique spent money like a spendthrift, while just about every federal, state, and local government entity is crying poverty; for very real reasons? What are the costs to the community at large, for a D.D.A. budget that almost equals the City's budget?
Does a backwoods-accountant-cum-city-manager know that much more than everyone else, or is she, like her husband, ex-Schoolcraft County Commissioner Keith Aldrich, such an accomplished "sincere God fearing public servant deceiver" that she has fooled everyone else but a few "rabble rousers" such as me? Perhaps ex-City Manager Alan Housler didn't know what he was doing, or was too stupid to find the pot of money that she found shortly after he retired?
My neighbor said, in response to my query, and by implication the Trib's editorial, "Why waste my life fighting city hall? Life is far more pleasant, and less costly, to me, personally, if I let the bastards have their way!" To which I would answer, today, "Because today it is rumored that if you own a sand point source of lawn irrigation water, within the city limits of Manistique, you owe LMAS a $360 permit fee for your Type III irrigation well, that if you do not pay will make you subject to prosecution by the Schoolcraft County Prosecutor."
Who knows what tomorrow will bring, if, today, you let others' unquestioned fancies create the basis to seize or control the products of your life, and, subsequently, those of your children and grandchildren?
Unlike my neighbor, I acquired, as a youth, a character flaw that prompts me to resist the urge to let the "bastards" win by default. For those that fail to understand why two individuals as different as Erickson and I learned to get along so well together, it is because both of us are willing to consider, in a candid, rational, and objective manner, the other's perspective, and both of us are willing to squeal loudly when we witness, or are subject to a recognized and unjustified screwing by public officials or employees.
For those that have a problem with the legality of recording face to face conversations with individuals, because those with the power of position may lie with impunity regarding the content of such conversations, here is a little information to set your mind at ease.
The price of high quality digital recorders has dropped to such an affordable price that almost anyone can afford one, with a couple of nickel metal hydride cells, and a charger. With that small investment, an individual can record a typical day of activity, 365 days per year, if necessary. Most of the time I take one whenever I enter Manistique City Hall, because there are those that work there that have accused me of everything from threatening city clerks, to intimidating city council!
A personal digital recorder is a necessary tool for those that do not suffer fools, gladly, and must deal with untrustworthy individuals. It is virtually impossible for an individual to counter confabulation, lies, and fantasy from authority figures, without irrefutable proof; and even then, denial, evasion, and deceit, will be used to deny that which is.
It doesn't get much better than the product of a decent digital recorder, and a good witness. My advice to one and all, if you cannot afford the price of gambling with the law, get one of each, and use them, because the most likely people to victimize you are those, with an attorney at their elbow, that say, "Trust me.".
THE MICHIGAN PENAL CODE (EXCERPT) Act 328 of 1931 750.539a Definitions. Sec. 539a. As used in sections 539a to 539i: (1) “Private place” means a place where one may reasonably expect to be safe from casual or hostile intrusion or surveillance but does not include a place to which the public or substantial group of the public has access. (2) “Eavesdrop” or “eavesdropping” means to overhear, record, amplify or transmit any part of the private discourse of others without the permission of all persons engaged in the discourse. Neither this definition or any other provision of this act shall modify or affect any law or regulation concerning interception, divulgence or recording of messages transmitted by communications common carriers. (3) “Surveillance” means to secretly observe the activities of another person for the purpose of spying upon and invading the privacy of the person observed. (4) “Person” means any individual, partnership, corporation or association. History: Add. 1966, Act 319, Eff. Mar. 10, 1967 © 2009 Legislative Council, State of Michigan THE MICHIGAN PENAL CODE (EXCERPT) Act 328 of 1931 750.539c Eavesdropping upon private conversation. Sec. 539c. Any person who is present or who is not present during a private conversation and who wilfully uses any device to eavesdrop upon the conversation without the consent of all parties thereto, or who knowingly aids, employs or procures another person to do the same in violation of this section, is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment in a state prison for not more than 2 years or by a fine of not more than $2,000.00, or both. History: Add. 1966, Act 319, Eff. Mar. 10, 1967 © 2009 Legislative Council, State of Michigan Re: Recording conversations in Michigan Though it is recognized that many websites represent the issue differently, Michigan is not an "all party consent" state. If you are a participant in a conversation, you may record the conversation without the permission of other participants. The problem arises from people reading MCL 750.539c without also looking at the definitions set forth in MCL 750.539a, as in considering MCL 750.539c, outside of the other applicable terms and provisions of the act. Quoting 324 N.W.2d 58, 117 Mich. App. 476, Sullivan v. Gray, (Mich.. 1982) The operative language of MCL 750.539c; MSA 28.807(3) prohibits a person from "wilfully [using] any device to eavesdrop upon [a] conversation without the consent of all parties thereto". As used in the statute, the term "eavesdrop" means to "overhear, record, amplify or transmit any part of the private discourse of others without the permission of all persons engaged in the discourse". MCL 750.539a(2); MSA 28.807(1)(2). We believe the statutory language, on its face, unambiguously excludes participant recording from the definition of eavesdropping by limiting the subject conversation to "the private discourse of others". The statute contemplates that a potential eavesdropper must be a third party not otherwise involved in the conversation being eavesdropped on. Had the Legislature desired to include participants within the definition, the phrase "of others" might have been excluded or changed to "of others or with others". Plaintiff argues that MCL 750.539c; MSA 28.807(3) must apply to both participants and nonparticipants since it relates to "[any] person who is present or who is not present during a private conversation * * *". We disagree. Although the phrase arguably creates an ambiguity as to the persons affected by the act, the interpretation requested by plaintiff would render inoperative the words "of others" in the statutory definition of eavesdropping. A more logical interpretation may be made that gives full effect to that statutory definition. The words "[any] person who is present or who is not present" merely acknowledge that eavesdropping may be committed by one who is actually in close physical proximity to a conversation or by one who is some distance away but eavesdrops utilizing a mechanical device. Quite plainly, one may be "present" during a conversation without being a party to the conversation and without his presence being apparent to those conversing. For example, the eavesdropping party could literally be under the eaves outside an open window.Later, I have more to be say about the issue of recording public officials and employees.
And now for a little humor. From my cynical perspective, the process of too much important political decision making, in Manistique, could not be expressed better:
DECIDE, v.i. To succumb to the preponderance of one set of influences over another set. A leaf was riven from a tree, "I mean to fall to earth," said he. The west wind, rising, made him veer. "Eastward," said he, "I now shall steer." The east wind rose with greater force. Said he: "'Twere wise to change my course." With equal power they contend. He said: "My judgment I suspend." Down died the winds; the leaf, elate, Cried: "I've decided to fall straight." "First thoughts are best?" That's not the moral; Just choose your own and we'll not quarrel. Howe'er your choice may chance to fall, You'll have no hand in it at all. --Ambrose Bierce, _The Devil's Dictionary_ (1911)At the Manistique City Council meeting, last night, I stated the following during the first public comments period prior to the main agenda items. It made no difference. Mayor Peterson had no problem getting a majority approval of his public comment period proposal, ready for his signature, with no discussion beyond his claim that the policy was approved by council, when he was elected mayor.
He was correct, his public comment policy did became a defacto board rule of the Manistique City Council, as it had with other mayors, by his personal declaration that it was so, with no motion, second, discussion, vote, or record in the minutes; with nothing more than the approval by the default silence of the majority, as the city attorney watched with silent commendation. Last night, with the option to encourage public participation in Manistique city government, the majority chose to approve Peterson's previously written personal decision motion to continue the previously illegal policy to stifle public comment with a whimsical 3 minute board rule, this time, with due process.
It will be interesting to witness the content of the comments, and the identity of the first individual to be allowed to violate the new council rule, which provides for no exceptions. When the public comment period was three minutes by mayoral whimsy, it was easy to grant more time to favored speakers, by mayoral whimsy. Violating a council resolution, by granting extra public comment time to some, by whimsy, and not to others, by whimsy, will be a little harder to justify within the spirit, intent, and wording, of the Michigan Open Meetings Act, within the context that public official scofflaws don't care about the intent, spirit, or wording of federal and state legislation, or local ordinances.
For 15 years that I know of, several mayors before Mayor Peterson thought that limiting public comments at a public meeting was a humorous exhibition of personal power. Peterson's act came complete with brandishing a three minute egg timer. Having addressed, in writing, years ago, ex-Mayor Peggi Arnold's inquiry regarding the required process to establish a legal public comment period, City Attorney Filoramo knew those acts were illegal, and did nothing but smile during those times. A similar attitude, with the support of the board, prevailed with most chairpersons of the Schoolcraft County Board of Commissioners for more some 15 years, that I remember. For the past few years or so, the county board agenda had, as part of its format, statements that define a far more civilized public comment policy. I know of no board resolution that defined that new policy, therefore I assume that it reflects nothing more than someone's more civilized personal perspective than Peterson's. With the pending introduction, this evening, of a due process policy to limit public comments, I can do nothing but hope, in one hand, that some members of Manistique City Council might have considered a cause and effect relationship between the lack of public participation in local government, as noted in a recent Pioneer Tribune editorial, and my understanding that Manistique is run more as a fiefdom than a city. In light of my dim view of local government, would someone explain to me how a defined city council policy, that I hold in my hand, is ready for Mayor Petersen's signature? At what private meeting, attended by whom, was it decided? What criteria was considered, beyond the desire to stifle as much public comment as possible, at public meetings that most folk stay away from, as they would from the plague?There was no response at the time, but Councilwoman Chris Rantanen's tongue loosened up after the second public comment period during which Doug Erickson addressed City Manager Aldrich's fabricated newspeak statement to the Pioneer Tribune, concerning commercial and residential water rates being determined by a 1978 sewer and drain ordinance. At last night's council meeting, the purpose of Aldrich's statement to the Trib was rendered as evasive fiction by a resolution introduced and passed to determine municipal commercial and residential water rates by the designation given to the municipal sewer rate for each account.
More to follow.
After Erickson made it clear that he knew Aldrich had lied at the last council meeting.... Councilwoman Rantanen directed an emotional blast to Doug and I stating in so many words that she was sick of the allegations that council folk were crooks, and that Mayor Peterson was not trying to stifle public comment.
I came to understand, decades ago, during the public comments periods of public meetings, that the elected or appointed members of a public body have the legal right to ignore public comments, or queries. It is a broken part of our representative democracy form of government, whereby elected or appointed representatives do not need to know, or consider, or represent, the public interests, voiced in public, by members of the public that elected them as representatives, or in whose name they were appointed as representatives.
Every four years, or so, depending upon the political office sought, there is a political beauty contest to determine who of the candidates can make the greatest positive impression on a generally ignorant electorate. The impressions may consist of any claim to benefit any particular elector, and those claims are made at public meetings, private cabals, social functions, one on one phone conversations, etc., known or unknown to everyone else.
In theory, each elected candidate is chosen to represent the best interests of the majority of their electors - the general public - within the context of the competing interests of other members of the public that supported other candidates that claim to represent the general interests of their electors.
In fact, once elected, generally speaking, the Schoolcraft County and City of Manistique elected representatives wash the campaign dirt off their hands and faces that comes from pressing the flesh and kissing the babies of the unwashed masses of electors, and get down to the business of serving the wishes of the special interests' movers and shakers in the community. Most of the decisions to cater are done at private meetings, private phone conversations, private golf outings, across business counters, at exclusive soirees, at the VFW, at the Elks Lodge, in the city manager's office, with the judge over coffee, with the CEO at lunch; the list of venues for conducting private public business is virtually limitless.
It does no take a city or county full of geniuses to understand that today's business, more often than not, has little or nothing to do with election campaign promises. Most of a candidate's specific business, for a particular office, is, beyond the obvious and imminent, new business, mostly unknown and unconsidered prior to an election.
It does no take a city or county full of geniuses to understand that today's business is not influenced by three or six minutes of well crafted public comments or inquiry, by seldom more than two people, ignored by those to whom it is addressed. I have witnessed, and, occasionally, been part of private public business, as a representative of public interest, not because I wanted to, but because I had no choice if I wanted to make a difference.
Public officials in the City of Manistique, and, to a significant degree, Schoolcraft County, are seldom influenced by public input, they are influenced, mostly, by private input. For anyone that has attended local public meetings, regularly, they must be deaf, dumb, blind, and mentally incompetent to conclude that public business is decided in public. Regarding most county and city public business, public meetings are little more than a formal exercise to approve public business, decided elsewhere. "Robert's Rules of Order", or whatever rules of order that might have been crafted at the local level, with or without due process, are used to give a broken process an air of formal respectability.
The City of Manistique has, as mayor, a man who is still addicted to the power that came with his prior position as the city's top cop. His view of a democratic representative government is that of the acting unquestioned authoritarian he was as Director of Manistique Public Safety.
From what I have seen at public meetings, there is almost no other perspective worthy of note, beyond Peterson's own, or those with whom he collaborates in any one of an almost infinite number of private venues. Unlike the indignant Councilwoman Rantanen, I do not assume that defacto city policy represents the public interest, with virtually no public input, and no public discussion regarding forgone conclusions that need little more than the ratification of an orchestrated formal council vote.
Perhaps the majority of city council members consider public sentiment by E.S.P., or in their dreams. Perhaps, every member of the general public, but me, and a few other ignorant types, know all about the future public business of any term of office, and have, by their election ballot vote, approved the years of future public business known to them, but not to the likes of me.
Most likely, without public input and discussion, public business is determined in private, and as I said, at the last council meeting, two three minute public comment periods, at public meetings, seldom or never attended by members of "the public", is, with the predictable silence or evasive response, little more than an effort to stifle and discourage public participation, by those public officials that view themselves as the omniscient creators and guardians of all that represents the public and private good.
With little more than a guesstimate of 15 minutes of ignored public comment at a typical Manistique City Council meeting, every two weeks, as slow as I am, I am comfortable with my conclusion that most "public" city business is determined in private, and the same logic applies to most meetings of local public bodies that I have attended, as a spectator or member.
It is pure sophistry for any City of Manistique elected official to suggest that a few minutes of ignored public comments or inquiry, every two weeks, at a typical city council meeting, results in public decisions reflecting public interests. It is fantasy to suggest that a blanket limit of three minutes for public comments does not stifle public participation in public city business. For many reasons, most Manistique City Council meetings are devoid of public participation beyond those that are determined not to sanction broken public policy by default silence or absence from public meetings.
As for City of Manistique public officials, and employees, being crooks, it is quite obvious to all that they cannot be known crooks, by City of Manistique standards, for if they were they would be in jail, or unemployed. Speaking for myself, I have offered substantiation, at various times, as a matter of public record, in a public manner, regarding unethical, deceptive, foolish, questionable, stupid, whimsical, and criminal behaviour, but only Councilwoman Rantanen can explain why she resents the label of "crooks" applied to no one she cared to identify.
There is not much of a distinction between a thief, and one that sanctions the action of a thief, or a baby raper and one that sanctions the rape of babies. A majority of council persons approved the theft of part of Al Burns property for the "improved" Lakeside Road to facilitate transportation around Emerald School. A similar majority approved the purchase of part of the Marie Barr property to build a road for private developer Moyle.
Public records indicate that, to City Manager Aldrich and a majority of councilpersons, it depends on whose property is coveted, or whose baby is considered, as to how they choose to be crooked, or not. Al Burns was no-one's bastard baby, therefore fair game for the theft of his property. Marie Barr was a council majority's fair haired child, therefore favored with the benefits of public money to purchase part of her property, and enhance the value of the remainder. I can only guess how much her property value will increase, as a consequence of family member Corey Barr's recommendation, accepted by city council, to move the road from a platted city street right of way, to a new location on and adjacent to Marie Barr's property.
As for Moyle, he is a resourceful businessman exploiting community greed and gullibility, so city government will build a road for his profit, at the expense of local taxpayers, with no guarantees given or implied of how long it will take to pay for the new road with the city's share of the new property taxes generated by his venture. Assuming the rumor of Moyle's "McDonalds" deal is true, that, and the other commercial buildings he is rumored to build, will be at the expense of reduced downtown eatery business, using downtown property taxes, to further vacate downtown commercial properties.
All that comes with the active blessing of the Downtown Destruction Authority and Manistique City Council, and with the silent default blessing of all those local public entities that are feeling the crunch of increasing hard times while the city spends tax revenue that would, otherwise, go to them.
Later I will link the "crooks" dots to my real property in danger of confiscation due to Manistique City Council's sanction of fraudulent water bills charging me for water I do not use, and a city water service termination policy that would do organized crime proud. That basic tenet of civilized human behaviour, "Do unto other as you would have them do unto you." is nothing more than a joke, in Manistique, and as for "due process", that is a greater joke.
I learned, the hard way, years ago, that if it acts like a crook it is likely to be one, and I should act accordingly. As a consequence of human nature, we all have a touch of the predator and ignoramus, some a lot more than others, and, as far as I am concerned, those that are not bashful about sanctioning or practicing unethical, bent, broken, or crooked behavior have no place in a position of public responsibility. You can put lipstick on a crook, or an ignorant unethical public official that sanctions crooked behaviour, but the damage they do to others is the same. Councilwoman Rantanen doth protest too much, methinks.
As the council representative of the district in which I live, Councilwoman Rantanen very seldom represents my perspective, or what I perceive to be needed on my side of town. She, like most other members of city council, is little more than a "yes person" to the perceptions of Mayor Peterson and City Manager Aldrich.
There is a cult of local government leadership based upon the premise that if a councilperson, board member, or committee member, perceives and expresses a view of city business, different from that of the mayor, city manager, or whomever is chairperson, then they are not a "team player" and therefore deserve to be ostracized, and isolated from the "private" discussions of public business.
Councilwoman Rantanen, for the many years you have been the councilperson representative from my district, you have never provided me any information, or support, personally or in public, regarding any of a number of serious public business issues I have voiced, in public. Going on some 12? years in office, I do not remember you going to bat for any person or project within your district. From my perspective, as a representative of my public political interests, and the general public interests on my side of town, to me you are as worthless as tits on a fish.
For your ability to be a "team player" for someone else's game, outside of your district, I give you an A+. For an occasional spark of voiced, sincere, justified, and ineffective concern regarding several issues, I give you credit.
As for whether you and others of city government and administration are crooks, or merely ignorant, foolish and willful; or something entirely different, that is for you and others to decide. I have, over the years, expressed to you, in a public and fully substantiated manner, that public business which has a negative effect on my quality of life and the lives of other members of the public, and in effect, you told me, with your deliberate silence and inertia, to "Fuck off!".
Please pardon me if I fail to think well of you, generally, as the elected representative of my district. Rather, I consider you, mostly, a yes-woman of your political pals to whose tune you dance at my expense, and the expense of others in the district you are supposed to represent. You are the plastic team player that an authoritarian mayor and amoral city manager demands, easily molded to perform his bidding, and, consequently, to be commended for being "in the best interests of the city"; at your electors' expense. You act as if you were elected to represent the best interests of the mayor, various public boards and committees, the city manager, and other city employees.
Do you have any idea of who works for whom?
Is it the purpose of an elected representative to ignore the general well-being of electors of their district, and represent the will of public and private special interests inside and outside the district? Does an elected representative vote to spend substantial local tax money for infrastructure improvements and "wanna haves" any place other than their home district? Do I, or any other local resident, elect a representative to ignore complaints about capricious government and administrative business designed to extract revenue from, and bully the city's constituents?
Does an elected representative of the west side of town, remain silent about the majority of city tax revenue being spent on the east side of the river, where most active city political influence resides. Is it to the general public's benefit to ignore the consequences of spending the majority of limited infrastructure renewal dollars working in bedrock, on the east side, where half the value is obtained for twice the money for that which might be done on the west side, without the "nice to have" curbs, sidewalks, and concrete driveway entrances?
Does any of many specific local examples that will take more than three minutes to explain at a public meeting, to those that cannot or will no see past their personal interests, make anyone a crook? I suppose it depends on whether you are the victimizer or victim.
Is it to the benefit of the general electorate for a "representative" to sanction, with their silence, predatory business, elsewhere, or does that sanction carry the clear message "Don't waste your life bucking city hall! You're next, regardless of what you think, or want, or do!"
From my perspective, the blanket refrain, "I'm not a crook." or, if you wish, "We're not crooks!", does not withstand the test of scrutiny and time.
As I walked away from the lectern, at the 11/23/09 city council meeting, I realized that I, and others, had been mislead, again, by a shifty city manager and attorney, regarding a question I addressed to city council. No council member said a word. City Manager Aldrich requested City Attorney Filoramo to respond to my question. City Attorney Filoramo said, paraphrased, "There is no such lawsuit." Once again, I regret having spoken to council members as elected representatives, rather than servants of hired help. The question I asked regarded a rumor I heard, concerning a workman compensation and accident liability claim brought by a person employed by the city. The word I used to describe the rumored action brought by the employee was "lawsuit". Silly me, to use a word with a more specific meaning, when the more vague word "claim" would have been more difficult to evade. Silly me, to expect a straight answer to an informal question about city business that I and others must pay for. Would someone explain to me why it should not be made public knowledge, when requested, that a citizen made a claim against a government entity for which all might pay? I have no doubt that everyone in the know, at the council meeting, knew exactly what I inquired about, and could have neutralized a rumor from which I and others are now lead to infer to be a lie, and the source a liar. Why do I conclude that elected council members cannot be trusted to answer a question, candidly, at an open meeting, without revealing the details of likely legal negotiations concerning a city employee's claims? Why, when I addressed my question to elected city council members, at an open city council meeting, did City Manager Aldrich seize the opportunity, unopposed, to take control of the meeting as if she had determined that the public has no right to know if there was any truth to the rumored city employee claims, regardless of my unfortunate choice of the word "lawsuit" instead of "claim". As I have questioned, for years, who represents, or works, for whom, and why should "the public" accept the whimsical government business I witnessed, that had the sole purpose of evading or hiding any public knowledge of the public business of which I inquired? Peter MarkhamThe above was an editorial letter, published in a following edition of the local Pioneer Tribune newspaper. The topic, once again, illustrates what happens when the best interests of the city electorate become subservient to the "best interests of the city", as determined by elected officials and hired help more interested in shielding their butts instead of insuring open and responsible government and accountability.
Mayor Dave Peterson brought to my attention, during the last public comment period of this evening's regular city council meeting, that I had, in my recent editorial letter, mistakenly identified City Manager Aldrich as the individual that asked City Attorney Filoramo to answer my question regarding a city employee's claims, when, in fact, it was he that asked Filoramo to respond.
I apologized for my error, and thought how considerate he was to ignore the issues of that letter while bringing a petty identification error to my attention. Oh well, S.O.S....