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Letters 12/27/12


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City Council thwarting Mayor Brown’s efforts

From: David Jones

Columbus

Received: Dec. 24

In response to the Monday Dec. 17 editorial “City Council, mayor work best when fusing efforts”:

There comes a time, from time to time, that we as citizens must be frank with our government and clearly and politely address issues that are of importance to us. I believe this is one of those times.

For the past several years, I have attended City Council, Board of Works, Redevelopment Commission among other meetings (and) even ran for City Council myself. Throughout all this I have noticed something very troubling about our current City Council. It seems that a few members of City Council tend to steer the conversation for the rest, the voice of the individual councilman is rarely heard, in lieu of the voice of a spokesman. “We” has replaced “I” and decisions seem to be made ahead of time in caucuses held at Smith’s Row immediately prior to scheduled City Council meetings. Although this is a legal activity, it is regarded as unethical and fails to foster a “transparent” government.

I have also observed that there is a pervasive inconsistency that tends to skew toward any effort the mayor attempts to move forward in making the necessary changes that will make Columbus a more fiscally responsible, ethically sound and overall more enjoyable place to live. For example, City Council reluctantly passed the mayor’s $2.7 million Capital Plan, after several delays and amendments that only made the process muddy, redundant and inefficient. However, they have passed a $7.5 million EDIT bond and $16 million utilities budget without a single line of oversight. This amounts to an inconsistent and arbitrary application of the duties assigned to City Council. The oversight forced into the mayor’s Capital Plan complicates the processes already handled by the Board of Works.

I have also noticed a covert attempt by some on City Council to stonewall any attempt by our mayor to accomplish anything of substance. For example, the passing of a properly proposed ethics ordinance. This ordinance has been proposed and reworked several times, yet when asked for a vote by City Council the response was a motion to table the agenda item until February so that City Council could “look at it more.” I believe this is an attempt to include more language that would tie the hands of the mayor and anyone else who would question City Council’s motives.

I also believe that the hiring of attorney Pete King as City Council’s legal counsel was to undermine any effort that is contrary to the whims of City Council. Pete King was a very vocal voice against Kristen Brown during the last election and still is. City Council should set their own political agendas aside and concentrate on how they will advance the issues taking place in their individual districts. They would also do well in choosing another legal counsel that is less biased and more objective in their dealings with City Council.

Coming in January we will see the election of a new president pro tempore of City Council. Hopefully we will see someone who has the ability to actually lead this body of elected officials in meaningful discussion and shun the tactic of filibustering, stonewalling and outright attempts to usurp control. Truthfully I don’t see that happening.

On Monday Dec. 17 The Republic editorial said, “These are not situations in which both governing bodies can go their separate ways. The mayor and the council have to find ways to work together while not surrendering any of the responsibilities with which they have been entrusted.” This is true, but it is also true that City Council cannot continue to arbitrarily apply its duties as they see fit. The road of working together goes both ways.

Lessons to be learned from school shooting

From: Earl Stanfield

Columbus

Received: Dec. 22

In the darkness of the Newtown massacre we need to contemplate the words of George Santayana. “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” As long as we choose to sacrifice the future of this society on the altar of Moloch known as the Second Amendment, nothing will change. Santayana again: “Only the dead have seen the end of war.”

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