From: Laurie Booher
The Republic’s recent coverage of problems at City Hall, including the lack of communication and civility and the absence of financial controls, is troubling. To better understand what is going on, I attended the weekly Board of Works meeting at City Hall.
Historically, this meeting has provided citizens an opportunity to hear updates from the various city departments and to ask questions of those who govern the day-to-day activities of the city. Since the mayor is chairwoman of the board and central to the issues that have been raised, I thought it was appropriate to attend the meeting and respectfully ask my questions.
I was surprised when I was asked to see Jeff Logston, the city attorney, prior to the start of the meeting and then told that I would not be allowed to ask my questions. The reason given: It was neither the time nor place to ask my questions, and doing so would encourage others to do the same, and nothing would get done.
Perhaps the mayor, city attorney and Board of Works could inform me and the community of the more appropriate way to seek answers. Is it to file requests through the Freedom of Information Act? Is it to put in writing the questions and explain why the answers are needed?
I would have understood if I had been told that the answers involved legally protected conversations or information. I would have also accepted being told that the information would take some time to assemble. Neither excuse was offered.
So, I returned to the meeting, which was being chaired by a citizen member, and I was not allowed to ask any questions nor acknowledged as having concerns that would be addressed. As a result, I have filed an official request for information that requires an acknowledgment within 24 hours.
This seems an odd way to conduct relations with the public and creates confrontation where none is needed. Unfortunately, it seems to be the way this administration chooses to conduct itself.
If questions are the basis for suspicion, we are in for a rough two years. Instead of questions and answers being used to provide insight and understanding, they are being seen as inappropriate to the public process.
Mayor Brown ran on a platform calling for greater transparency. Sadly, her track record does not live up to her words. Dodging questions or speaking through others does not provide the transparency she promised or the leadership we deserve. I hope we see a willingness at City Hall to be more open in the future.