First of all, this is being presented as a Special Presentation. Once again they use a process that does not allow Citizen input. Special Presentations do not allow Citizen input. This is once again presented on Friday afternoon to where no one grasps it until the weekend is wrapping up and 48 hours before the meeting. That is the reason they put it out on Friday, hoping no one will pay attention. What is up with these people? Are they against the Democratic process and more in favor of manipulation of structures of governance?
First of all, by presenting this in a formal document, I believe that they are being dishonest with the public through obfuscation. Anyone utilizing the Removal of Consent Agenda Items process precedent as set forth on the City Council Agenda Pamphlet is not asking for a Public Hearing, they are following a process that has been endorsed by the Council for years. The issue is that someone has finally utilized the process and the City Council does not like it and they want to quickly sweep it under the rug before it settles into accepted normalcy.
When the City Administration's words state about the changing of the cover sheet,
"We hope this cover sheet is clear and easy to understand and will help citizens effectively participate in City government."
It needs to be understood that we believe this change gives the appearance of an attempt to make the Council meetings even less citizen friendly, and is obviously an attempt make the civic process less responsive to citizen input. Furthermore, politically, it looks like a way to avoid public debate on issues potentially important to the community. The above statement was true with the way things were/are now prior to the impending changes. The entire Council needs to be dressed down on this issue Tuesday night. What do these Council members have against the citizens they say they represent?
Look at the wording in the City Council Agenda packet where it says Alderman Lail made "comments at the May 1, 2012 Council meeting for staff to rectify the erroneous information related to consent agenda items that was written on the cover sheet of the council agenda’s available to the public at council meetings." No! Alderman Lail made a motion and then was interrupted by City Manager Mick Berry and they never revisited the motion, because the Mayor said that he took it as more of a comment. It is all recorded. Once again they are making rules up to suit their personal agenda.
They are trying to say for a citizen to remove a Consent Agenda item that it must be as a petition through the City Manager through the "Public Hearing" process. We aren't asking for a public hearing. The Consent Agenda obviously has nothing to do with public hearings. And again, how are we supposed to ask to be placed on the agenda on Wednesday in response to items on an Agenda that doesn't come out until Friday on the internet?
Also on the radio (Hal Row's show), Rudy Wright said that the council didn't want citizens abusing the process by pulling items that were (paraphrasing) petty in nature. If that was our goal, then would we have not done this before now? We waited nearly five months for the City Manager to attempt another HooDoo through illegitimate process. A $285k or $137k item does not belong on the Consent Agenda. It doesn't matter whether they are using their Parking Slush Fund or not. That is the reason why we stood up. This is an important issue that citizens deserve to have input on and they wanted to railroad this through and they don't want anyone to be able to introduce resistance and push back to their personal agenda.
As has been stated, this is an issue of Precedent. No matter how the language found its way onto the pamphlet, this became the rule through practice, until someone had the audacity to use it. So, while it may not have been 'officially' adopted through vote of council, and that is certainly not the gospel given that, "Staff was unable to find when that rule was included," it became inclusive through practice until Rebecca Inglefield stood up and used it.
Hickory City Council Agenda packet for May 15, 2012 - Beginning on Page 10