Sunday, November 15, 2015
A PROFOUND AND HUMBLE THANK YOU
IMAGINE….. The excitement felt by an old man such as myself to finally hear the magic words uttered by Melanie Abplanalp, the deputy election clerk for Washington County , as she uttered the words naming the top three vote getters in the St. George City municipal elections.
To be included with the prestigious leaders of the Great City of St. George made this old man’s knees buckle and brought tears to my eyes. Just imagine the thoughts going through my head having been given the opportunity to sit at the same table with a young and upcoming mortician like Jimmie Hughes. Well, I honestly must say I saw a twinkle in Jimmie’s eyes as he looked across the table at this old man……soon to be the oldest member of the city council. But alas, not to worry…..I found comfort in the knowledge that my burial arrangements are to be concluded with Metcalf Mortuary and therefore Jimmie’s expectations of my demise will bear no fruit for him as he plies his trade. After all is said and done, our methodology as it pertains to public service is sure to be noted by the public we serve. I am sure that the exuberance of Jimmie’s status as the most senior member of the council and Mayor Pro tem will include a polite and mutual respect for our differing points of view on how we are to deliver public service.
Tonight’s meeting passed quickly as the Election Results were recapped, approval of an addendum with Bud Mahas for the All Abilities Park. Approval of the Land & Water Conservation Grand for Millcreek Park passed, by a unanimous vote. The council then voted to move into a closed session to discuss a Property Item and possible sale thereof. Unexpectedly I was invited to remain by Mr. Esplin. Due consideration having been given to Election Results, this was considered appropriate and in keeping with established precedence. Prior to ANY discussion taking place Councilman Hughes wished to be satisfied that I understood that the contents of the discussion was not for public consumption. City Manager Esplin clarified that items heard prior to and following a closed session could be discussed and made public. The meeting proceeded and unfortunately, I am not at liberty to discuss contents. The meeting having been concluded I moved to depart.
Councilwoman Betty Arial, the other successful candidate asked me to join her and Councilwoman Randall for a discussion of issues in which they wished to voice their concerns. Folks, quite honestly I was feeling a chill from the cold shoulder I received from council members Almquist, Bowcutt and Hughes. Therefore my immediate reaction was a sense of relief. I had not been extended a friendly welcome or congratulations from my fellow Christian brothers or sisters from any council member. Please don’t misunderstand me. I do not want to sound like I am crying in my beer but I did expect a civil and courteous if not respectful recognition. However, I did receive a warm handshake from Mayor Pike and I felt a warm sense of recognition from Gary Esplin, City Manager. What followed was anything but a warm welcome or anything resembling an act of acceptance or friendship. Both ladies expressed their concerns about past articles I had written and that were printed in the Senior Sampler. Following a brief discussion I sensed that Councilwoman Randall was genuinely interested in having a forthright discussion of issues and was willing to put misunderstandings behind us and move forward in a positive way. I thank her for that. I was impressed with her sincerity and feel that we can work well together to better serve the citizens of St. George.
Councilwoman Ariel however was of a different mindset having felt empowered to speak on behalf of other council members. She proceeded to rebuke and criticize the wording I used in describing my observations of other council members in past articles placed in the Senior Sampler. Councilwoman Ariel indicated that she did not wish to be present in meetings where she would have to be concerned with what she said or how she acted that might be put in print. Clearly Councilwoman Ariel was attempting to dissuade me from writing articles for the Senior Sampler. I felt this was very poor timing and unseemly. Frankly I was insulted that on this momentous night an attempt to censor me would be made. As I sat and listened to the censorship Councilwoman Ariel was attempting to impose upon me, my mind flashed to the wording in a Primary Song. “If the Savior stood beside me, would I do the things I do”? If the Savior stood beside me, would I say the things I say”? Admittedly I do not possess the intellect of Councilwoman Ariel nor do I profess to be accepted or part of the social class in which Councilwoman Ariel resides among high level politicians and the Art World. I am, a simple man given to expressing myself at a blue collar level. Ironically, knowing that Councilwoman Ariel is employed by U.S. Senator Mike Lee, who is identified as an expert in Constitution Law and a strong advocate of the Constitution of the United States that clearly spells out in the First Amendment…..Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; “OR ABRIDGING THE FREEDOM OF SPEECH, OR OF THE PRESS.” How in a clear conscience can Councilwoman Ariel seek to deny me the freedom to write articles and place them in the Senior Sampler for public scrutiny? Councilwoman Ariel surely must know that censorship in any form flies in the face of an open and free society.
Is it any wonder our country is in the mess it is in when you have an elected official feeling empowered to censor the words used by another or attempting to influence and deny publication in a free press. My friends, I can only say that this old dog will not roll over for my peers and be denied the rights and privileges extended to every American. My first loyalty is to citizens of St. George and I will not surrender my freedom to speak on their behalf so that I might be accepted and praised by them. I have but one Master and I plan to use my Agency as He leads me to do. You should know that upon conclusion of our exchange we parted company as friends with slight and distant hug. There are no hard feelings on my part. We merely have a difference of opinion and I hope the public will find it refreshing to know that all those serving the public do not feel compelled to walk in locked step and that freedom of expression is alive and well. If we allow and condone censorship of what takes place in Public Meetings, where will it end? I fear for our Republic and what will happen if we fail to stand up and protect our liberties as outlined in the Constitution of the United States. ED BACA
Friday, October 23, 2015
HOW I SEE IT – 3
BIGGER ISSUES THAT NEED FIXING
The manner in which the St. George Municipal Election is shaping up, it appears to me, that the smart money has concluded the two incumbents have their re-election locked up. Perhaps this is as it should be. Only the voters can make that final determination. This being the case, only the third person is really at issue. Assuming this to be true one has to consider, what issue is to be used by the political powers that be, to enhance the image of the individual they feel will fill the bill for the third and final spot, mesh nicely with their way of thinking and doing things.
It now appears this issue may very well be The BLM Resource Management Plan. Most all of us connect this with the Northern Corridor and Turtle Reserve, located within the Red Cliffs and Beaver Dam Wash National Conservation Areas. Comments have been made by the Mayor and other prominent people that this BLM Plan appears to be a Land Grab by outsiders and not in the best interest of the community. They may be right but this certainly makes the BLM out as the Bad Guy and the way the Federal Government has been acting concerning western land it is understandable.
Whatever the case may be it has certainly diverted public attention from many other important and meaningful issues that Municipal Government should be paying closer attention to and attempting to resolve.
The City Council Work Meeting held today, October 22nd turned out to be most illuminating by the presence of Brian Tritle, Field Manager of BLM’s St. George Field Office. It was arranged for Mr. Tritle to be present by none other than the City Manager, who explained that it would be beneficial to the city. Underscored was the importance for having improved communication and interaction between City Hall and BLM on what is developing into a catastrophic situation, striking fear into the heart of those concerned with future development. It was learned that meetings dating back 20 years in which the City Manager had participated and thought to have produced an understanding that a NORTHERN CORRIDOR was virtually assured turns out to NOT to be the case today.
My fellow citizens this OPEN Public Meeting has made it possible for me to inform you that the previously thought to be, done deal on the Northern Corridor could NOT be verified with written documentation. As of this writing public records or minutes could not be produced to establish the validity that such an arrangement had been made. Rather frightening to learn at this late stage that the BLM may very well be able to select anyone of four alternatives only one of which may include the building of a Northern Corridor. Mr. Tritle informed the council that BLM was required to obtain approval from the Fish and Wildlife Department on the selection of anyone of the proposed alternatives. It appears the Northern Corridor is up for grabs and this will require full disclosure and documentation of how public interest is represented.
Please remember to VOTE on November 3rd. “Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.” Edmond Burke. Vote for ED BACA to be your Eyes, Ears and VOICE on the City Council. VOTE on November 3rd.
Sunday, October 18, 2015
HOW I SEE IT - 2
Bigger Issues That Need Fixing
The citizens of St. George know that we live in a desert and that we need a steady and reliable source of water to survive and grow. This is as true today as it was when the city was established. When you look closely at our great city and surroundings you can’t but feel good knowing that our founding fathers and those that followed have done a pretty good job. It’s why we choose to live here and why people continue join us.
City Government works in concert with County Government on such matters as The St. George BLM Plan with the County taking the lead role to insure our interests are identified and protected. Currently the County Attorney is acting to represent our concerns and I believe doing an excellent job of coordinating an appropriate response to the BLM Plan. I wish to publicly thank my wife, Karen, for staying up past midnight preparing a written outline of issues we care about and forwarding them to BLM in support of the County Attorney.
It seems to me that each time new candidates for city council gather with incumbents to run for office we all join as in a choir and sing out the most important item facing us is Growth and Water. OK, I get it and I believe the voters get the point. Sure the BLM Plan is sure to impact Growth, Water and Highways/Roads. Yes, St. George City contributes to this process. It is a work in progress and has been since the city was established and will be as long as we occupy this beautiful part of the world.
I believe that members of the city council have to dedicate their time and energy to address the everyday issues that we all confront and that impact our quality of life each and every day. That we are able to breath clean air, drive on roads that are safe and well maintained, look out to see the skyline and white clouds, open the faucet and get clean drinkable water, turn on the switch and enjoy lights and air conditioning, and be able to call the Police and Fire Department when we need help and protection.
The Council Meeting held on October 15th resulted in the approval of a conditional use permit to construct a 4 Story, 58 Foot High apartment complex to be located at the bottom of Foremaster and Riverside Drive. This means a greater number of people and cars in the same area the council recently approved a large commercial development and other high rise apartments. Folks, you tell me. How does this impact protection of skylines and views of open space? How about air quality and traffic gridlock problems?
Thank Goodness IHC had the good sense to not build a 7 Story hospital building and instead opted to build two, or more smaller buildings, that will not have a negative impact on the clouds and skylines we now enjoy.
When do we get to hear the thought process and exchange of ideas between council members so that we have a better understanding of what they value? Wouldn’t it be nice to know how a council member felt about protecting the Virgin River prior to their approval of a commercial development at the water’s edge?
What needs fixing is our ability to hear and understand the reasoning process our council members go through. We need to know more than what schools they attended and where they were born. Please remember to vote on November 3rd and Vote For ED BACA.
Monday, October 12, 2015
HOW I SEE IT
Bigger Issues That Need Fixing
City of St. George is blessed with a vibrant growing economy that brings with it an ever increasing population. Challenges and opportunities are ever present in a developing city such as ours.
I believed we are challenged to live within our means requiring our Council Form of City Government to exercise judgment that reflects on current issues and demands. Soon to come before the city council is the decision to permit consumption of Wine in city buildings to enhance the presentation of Art, inside The Electric Theater and perhaps other venues.
I believe issues of greater importance like, Public Safety and a Supportive Infrastructure should head the list of priorities that are deserving of greater council attention. Our City is our home requiring that the necessities of life be satisfied. Like any home the status of the family is impacted by the arrival of friends and guests who have come to visit. In the City’s case we receive visitors that at times may be as many as 30 to 40 thousand during the peak time of the tourist season and those seeking recreational activities and the enjoyment of the Arts.
Organized events intended to accommodate our guests has and continues to place increased demands on Police – Fire – and Leisure Services Department. The added costs can no longer be carried within the annual budget of each department thus requiring budgetary adjustments. We are arriving at a time when sales tax revenues are not able to keep up with financing items on our NEEDS List….. This is sure to have a negative impact upon our ability to provide for our Police, Fire, and Roads and Highways. We are in effect like an army that has outrun our supply lines. This has been made evident by the vote of council members to seek immediate financial relief by the issuance of bonds to provide immediate relief for the Arts and Recreational WANTS LIST.
Bonds for Infrastructure…..Roads and Highways appear to be following the same path set for Arts and Recreation.
I have been prompted by Elder David A. Bednar’s General Conference Address earlier this month to humbly suggest that voters consider that our political needs share a similarity with our spiritual needs in that it is indeed wonderful to have older men of maturity and judgment serving in leadership positions.
In doing so please remember to vote on Tuesday, November 3, 2015, I ask for your continued support. Vote ED BACA on November 3rd. Thank you.
Monday, June 1, 2015
WANTED WORTHY CITIZENSCONTACT: SG CITY RECORDER, Christina Fernandez
JUNE 1ST THRU JUNE 8TH FILING DATES FOR CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATESCITY HALL 175 East 200 North, St. George, Utah – PHONE 627-4000
May 28th City Council Meeting was Highlighted with a discussion on the 2015 – 2016 fiscal budget. This was to conclude presentations by each Department Head in which a Public Presentation of the goals and objectives of their respective department are made…..In effect justification of expenditures in this budget year. I must say that each and every department did an admirable job of doing so…..Save the City Attorney’s Office which had been saved for last. I can honestly tell you that in all the years of monitoring and reporting on County and Municipal Government …..I have almost always walked away from meetings impressed with the job performance of Department Heads….Especially given budget constraints and limitations.Folks, in my many years of public service I have had the opportunity to observe and work with numerous government agencies…..And I can categorically state that SG City Employees stand at the top of the job performance list…..Including and not to be overlooked is our City Attorney, Shawn Guzman. In my professional career I have worked with and interacted with countless lawyers…..And none have I found more deserving of admiration and respect than Mr. Guzman…..Whom I believe (For a long period of time) has and is now working with limited resources…..Especially when considering the rapid and at times uncontrolled growth rate of the city. I have come to recognize Mr. Guzman as…..A really good man and an excellent City Attorney.
As I mentioned the Legal Services Department was to be heard last in discussing budget needs this night. When it came time for Mr. Guzman to make his Public Presentation I could not help but to take note of his facial expression in which I detected a genuine concern for what he was about to say. Mr. Guzman stated…..I find it necessary to request a “Closed Session” to present the Legal Services Department Budget. Litigation Issues exist, that have an impact on what may be said concerning Legal Services budget needs. In recognition of what I considered an unusual declaration by Mr. Guzman…..The mayor called for a motion to move to a Closed Session and the Council immediately and without discussion voted to close the public meeting and shut the door of transparency.
Folks, as we approach the filing period for those who may wish to throw their hat in the ring and run for City Council I feel it is important to considered how easy and routine it has become for our elected officials to vote for a Closed Session…..The ever increasing number of Litigation Issues confronting the city…..That may or may not reflect on the performance of Elected Officials…..Action in which the Public is systematically excluded from knowing what is taking place is troubling. It’s kind of what is going on in our national politics. We elect U.S. Senators and Members of Congress who promise to carry out the public’s wishes and when they get to Washington they conveniently turn their backs to the public. At the local level City Council candidates promise Transparency and when they get in office they tend to forget about transparency and systematically and without discussion routinely vote for a “Closed Session”…..Even, when it involves fiscal budget discussion.I know, there is, a time and a place for everything…..Just like when it’s appropriate to have a Council Person declare a conflict of interest. Having declared a conflict of interest the Council Person may still take part in the discussion and even vote on the issue……But it sure is nice and informative for the public to know, what is taking place…..Absent the appearance that those in authority may be hiding what they are doing. It makes it possible to evaluate job performance does it not? I have to take my hat off to Councilman Hughes, who when representing the city before the County Commission Hearing…..Held to discussing curbside recycling, allegedly declared a conflict of interest when it came time for him to give input that ultimately helped to decide who was to be given the contract to pick up the trash. Reportedly the Councilman’s brother got the contract but isn’t it nice to know Jimmy was straight forward about it?
At this meeting Mayor Pike reported “I don’t know what is going to happen concerning City Curbside Recycling”. The cost may be $3.82. The, opt out plan which is what we will do. We need to know what we are doing….take extra steps or what? Administrative costs….50 cents? The Curbside Recycling will probably not be acted on till possibly September. Folks, this will be right in the middle of elections for City Council Seats…..3 of them. Wouldn’t it be nice to know that transparency is alive and well when SG City Council votes on who is to be awarded curbside recycling contract? As a point of interest the Municipal Primary Election is to take place August 11th and the General Election will be on November 3rd.FOLKS, I wish to thank the Senior Sampler and Pete and Barbara Leadenham for the kindness extended to me in allowing uncensored freedom of expression as I endeavor to inform and educate the public on what I see taking place in City Government. The Senior Samplers undying support for Freedom of the Press and Freedom of Speech guaranteed under the First Amendment was unwavering. Even during trying times when threats were made that spelled out the financial ruin of the Senior Sampler…..Pete Leadenham refused to surrender citing the importance of protecting and preserving the Constitution of the United States. Pete chose not to publicly identify the source of the threats and instead offered to print counter points of view. Invitations fell on deaf ears and attempts to force a cessation of Freedom of the Press did not prevail.
Friends, as this election cycle approaches…..Mr. Leadenham and I believe it is now time to voluntarily bring to an end our humble approach to having an informed electorate. Pete had it right when he explained that it was not enough to elect individuals with shared principles but that we should be vigilant of STANDARDS kept while in office.Conflict of Interest cannot and should not be ignored by those elected to public office or those who may seek to hold public office. I have chosen to make public, instances where the perception of wrong doing is as damning as the act itself. Therefore, as I may join other candidates, seeking public office…..I feel obligated NOT to write articles while candidates are actively campaigning. To do so would give the perception of a potential Conflict of Interest on my part. More importantly it would not be fair to my fellow citizens. We of course know that incumbents have a distinct advantage that is derived from the power and authority of the office they hold. How incumbents go about influencing others for support is a decision to be made by incumbents. Their actions will be judged by the voters. At the conclusion of the election process I will be free to comment on the performance of those elected. Candidly I hope to see new faces sitting on the City Council. I believe there are many gifted and qualified individuals capable of making significant contributions to SG City.
Pete and Barbara a profound thank you for the example of courage you have given me. May the Lord bless and keep you safe. ED BACA
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
THE UNIQUENESS OF ST. GEORGE AS A LOVING CARING PEOPLE COMES SHINING THROUGH WITH THE LEARNING CENTER’S SUPPORT OF THE SOON TO BE SENSORY GARDEN PORTION OF THE ALL ABILITIES PARK
May 21st City Council Meeting put the spotlight squarely on what I believe is the most meaningful attribute of our community…..A collection of people actively doing what has come to be known and described as the Lord’s Work…Being of Service to your fellow man.
Mayor Pike welcomed members and supporters of The Learning Center….An agency that is known to serve children with a Sensory Processing Disorder. The public was able to see what is meant by that old adage… “Charity Never Faileth” as a large congregation stood before the Council and presented the city with a check in the amount of $10,000… to sponsor the “Sensory Garden” portion of the new All Abilities Park. To make this presentation more meaningful to the City and TLC…It is to be appropriately named, the “Debbie Justice Sensory Garden”…In honor of retiring TLC Executive Director, Debbie Justice.
Folks, whether you have religious beliefs or not, you would be hard pressed not to acknowledge the good that is done within this community by those who routinely go about the business of being of service to others. Kudos to TLC and a profound thank you to SG City for reflecting community values in building an All Abilities Park. Please note that total contributions to this effort have now reached approximately $300,000 and are expected to climb. All donations regardless of amount are welcomed by city.
CONSENT CALENDAR: Council approved the financial report for April 2015. Revenue and General Fund has reached approximately 83% of expectations and Expenditures are at 71%.
PUBLIC HEARINGS: Council approved zone change from C-2 (Highway Commercial) and R-1-10 (Single Family Residential 10,000 sq. ft. minimum lot size) to PD-C (Planned Development Commercial) on 28.802 acres generally located at the northeast corner of Riverside Drive and Mall Drive from Mall Drive to 2200 East and Riverside Drive to the River. Smith’s Food and Drug Center, applicant.
Folks, you may soon see a state of the art Super Market and Gas Station to be located on what will be known as The Dinosaur Crossing Shopping Center that will include a dozen other businesses that will require a final approval by Council. City Staff reported that consideration will be given to Traffic Study, 2 large Pillar Signs and 8 Monument Signs. This will be the second major commercial center to be approved near the new Mall Drive Bridge that crosses the Virgin River. You may soon see Traffic Signal Lights appearing at the intersection of Mall Drive and 3000 East. All of this is part of the total Build Out of the City that may one day see 160,000 residents.
PUBLIC HEARING: Council approved a zone change from A-1 (Agricultural) to R-1-8 (Single Family Residential 8,000 sq. ft. minimum lot size) on 20.66 acres general located in Little Valley, east of 3000 East Street and north of the logical extension Crimson Ridge Drive. Development Solutions Group, applicant.
Councilman Hughes commented that he knew this is on Master Plan, “What we agreed to” but, “It gives me Heartburn” when I think of number of units per acre and traffic issues.
PLANNING COMMISSION ITEM: A request was received from MVA Properties, Mr. Jared Nielson applicant. Mr. Robert Reid, Rosenberg Associates, representative, for permission to construct a multi-family four (4) story above ground apartment complex called “Catamaran Plaza” with associated two (2) levels of underground parking that would be approximately fifty-eight feet (58) ABOVE GRADE AND WOULD EXCEED THE ALLOWABLE MAXIMUM BUILDING HEIGHT OF 35 FEET, UNLESS THE City Council grants a CUP (Conditional Use Permit) for a greater height as per City Code 10-10-4. The property is located directly north of the electrical substation at the intersection of Riverside Drive and 1990 East Street and is south of existing Rebel Creek Ridge apartments.
When a new structure is proposed that exceeds the allowable height as per City Ordinance, the Planning Commission reviews the plans, and then either: 1) recommends approval of the request to the City Council, who will set the maximum height with a Conditional Use Permit, of 2) recommends denial of the request to the City Council.
Folks, this proposed site contains Hills and Mounds that require the Hillside Review Board to conduct an examination of the site and to forward to the Council a recommendation based on its findings. Councilman Almquist has served on this board and acts as a liaison to Council. Mr. Almquist made it known that a member of the Hillside Review Board found himself in a “Conflict of Interest” concerning this development and in fact declared a conflict. In recognizing the forthrightness of this individual Mr. Almquist wished to bring attention to the integrity of this individual. In furtherance of gaining a better understanding of “Conflict of Interest” procedures as outlined in Utah Municipal Code Laws, Mr. Almquist requested that Acting City Attorney, Paula Houston review the wording/content of statute. This having been done it was clearly established that the Law Required a Declaration of Conflict of Interest when identified elements were met. It was clearly pointed out that an individual having declared a conflict of interest was not legally required to Recluse him or herself or from engaging in the process. Mrs. Houston rendered her legal opinion clarifying appropriate behavior. Mr. Almquist made no further comment.
It is clear that SG City is continuing to grow by leaps and bounds. There is a lot going on in our community and I encourage you remain vigil and informed. ED BACA
Thursday, May 21, 2015
AIRPORT ADVISORY BOARD
A BREATH OF FRESH AIR TRANSPARENCY FOUND IT’S WAY INTO HERETOFORE RESTRICTED AIR SPACE
Regular Meeting of SG City Council was held May 14th in the City Hall Conference Room where a self-imposed limit of PUBLIC INPUT is sustained depending on topic matter and welcomed personality in attendance. Transparency and understanding is the objective… Is it not? Roberts Rules of Order do not apply. It is what it is…A Public Airing of Public Business isn’t it? The public is permitted to…Listen…But not to speak. The Public may or may not be extended the courtesy of, viewing…charts/graphs/photos circulated as part of discussion. Elected officials are in control. Good manners and respect has nothing to do with it. It’s strictly Business as defined by city government. Active Citizen Participation is only important when elected officials deem it so.
Folks, those in attendance today consisted of Elected Officials, City Staff, one reporter from the Spectrum and one from SG Newspapers, and yours truly, concerned citizen. Scott B. Taylor, Water Services Director, bless his heart had completed his presentation… which had included an overview of the salary caps placed on Water Dept. Employees and equity needed. Scott was fighting for his employees, recognizing that there was room for improvement concerning merit pay etc. Scott made constructive suggestions on how to address the needs of his employees. The Police and Fire Chief had previously represented their respective departments citing employee retention issues that identified declining retirement benefits. Being the good supervisor that he is Scott suggested ways to improve salary conditions, for long term employees… something akin to a one time annual bonus was mentioned. Just having heard concerns of retirement benefits going from 50% to 35%...and knowing that bonus payments often are not included in highest 3 years calculations for retirement…I spoke up and asked…will this suggested form of compensation be included in retirement benefits? A simple question is it not? As mentioned earlier, no outsiders were present… but two reporters, and me to be inconvenienced by my untimely question on behalf of city employees. I was promptly informed that this Meeting of City Council did not allow for questions/input from the audience. I immediately recognized the power and authority of this body and refrained from further comment. I wish to now Publicly Say I am Sorry to Mayor, Council and City Staff. I should have recognized the need for expediency and comfort of those present. After all, a Public Meeting in a city hall conference room is no place for a single member of the public to ask for clarification of what has been discussed. My only excuse is that I was caught up with concern for city employees and was transported back in time with Councilman Bowcutt’s comment concerning drinking water… “In my day not drinking downstream from cattle” was most important to know. In my mind I still have visions of Norman Rockwell drawings depicting a public gathering in which someone stands up and exercises his freedom to speak. I am sorry to say…those days are apparently gone in a SG Council Meeting. For this I am truly sorry.
You would be quite right to assume, it is not easy to endure the rigors of dealing with the overwhelming powers of city hall. You might also be right to say… Ed, if you can’t take the heat get out of the kitchen. Right, just remember that President Truman’s sage advice applies equally to members of city government. Local government is where the rubber meets the road. If you can’t speak in your own town meeting we might as well just put a chain around our ankle and shut up and be quiet and do what we are told.
I feel it necessary to bring this to the Public’s Attention so that you might see the similarity and pattern that is in place for restricting or limiting public awareness of the actions of city government. As an example I offer last week’s Council Meeting…in which City Residents were admonished to limit their comments to the narrow confines outlined by city government when hearing a General Plan Amendment. If this is not enough to cause you to reflect on the need for checks and balance in city government…I direct your attention to the refusal of our city government to openly discuss Code Enforcement Reform as well as litigation issues that are part and parcel of having an informed citizenry…to oversee the performance of our government. Do you not see what is happening to our city…to our country? Are we as a people becoming so insensitive to the unraveling of our moral fabric that we are content with parking our religious values at government door? Are we to be content with knowing that our elected representatives go to church each Sunday…whatever church it may be and not hold them accountable? Do we not have a duty/obligation be an active citizen…. to question and demand answers relevant to our concerns for a just and honest government? SIGNIFICANT ACCOMPLISHMENT: AIRPORT ADVISORY BOARD. Mayor Pike stood tall tonight…when he thanked Councilman, Joe Bowcutt for accepting and becoming an Ex-Officio member of newly reconstituted Airport Advisory Board. My friends, the internal manipulations of the past two years taking place at the New SG Airport in many ways could be describe as flying below the radar screen. What has taken place speaks to the issue raised at the beginning of this article…Transparency and Citizen Input and Oversight. Prior to the new airport being completed the city was involved in litigation with a contractor that was hushed up. The city never made public the terms of the settlement. Previous administration elected to litigate the claim which they declared to be unfounded …and which the contractor reportedly would never win…yet we know a settlement was reached and the contractor was awarded an amount of money not made public. We don’t know exactly how much or where they money came from to pay the rumored $100,000 pay off. We do know that during the last months of construction the former mayor addressed the city council in a Workshop Meeting and explained that FAA was making demands that required quick responses from the city. Reportedly the Airport Board was delaying or hampering city efforts to do so in a timely manner. The former mayor and City Manager concurred that it was best to do away with the Airport Board made up of local citizens. The former mayor asked the Council to disband the Airport Board and committed to asking for a reinstatement of the Airport Board as soon as construction was completed. Time passed and the former mayor and city manager reportedly concluded that it was better to keep the running of the airport in their hands and therefore the commitment to re-establish the Airport Board was never honored. During the last two years there have been many issues with Private FBO doing business at the new airport. Suffice it to say not everyone has been happy with operation decisions made by the city. I believe it is safe to say city has made concessions that may have resulted in lawsuits and further litigation. As far as we know litigation has been avoided. I have presented these details to you to show the importance of Citizen Oversight and the need to hold elected officials accountable. Mayor Pike is to be commended for honoring his stated commitment to Transparency and for his diligence and hard work in seeing to it that the Airport Advisory Board is back in service. Last Wednesday the Airport Board met for the first time and 6 or 7 members of the public were in attendance. Kudos to mayor and council for a job well done, thereby making Active Citizen Participation possible. ED BACA