- Special Sections
- Public Notices
With respect to the Dec. 21 county council meeting, the council seems to have its priorities backward. They encourage citizens to attend meetings and make their opinions heard. On the other hand, they discourage petitions.
There are a few people who like to go to meetings and make speeches, but a great many others are reluctant to speak at meetings. In fact, a large number are reluctant even to go to meetings. Many suspect that even if they are heard they will not be listened to, so at most a few dozen attend. Government by meeting is not really a form of democracy.
When people sign petitions, it is clear what they are saying. They are normally written in good English. It is all on the record-no secret caucuses. Many petitions are signed by hundreds or even thousands of citizens. These numbers dwarf the numbers who attend meetings.
I believe that the council should give higher priority to petitions than to verbal arguments. Petitions have explicit substance. Speeches can be confused and the exact content is lost when the speaker sits down. Often the only residue is a vague impression left by the personality of the speaker.
When the council shelves petitions by ignoring them it is in effect acting as a court. This has happened repeatedly this year and I believe the council is overextending its legal powers in a high-handed fashion. All petitions, even Hanneman’s, should be treated with respect.
I would add a comment that recent petitions are motivated largely by a concern that the county is not spending prudently. That is the main point in conversations I have had about petitions, but the council manages to sidestep it. The county should find a way to implement the views of its citizens, especially views on spending.