January 14, 2010 in Washington Voices

‘Positive Change’ slate has lost sight of promises

Margaret Mortz
 

I voted for you. I believed you when you said you wanted to listen to the public and open communications. I believed you when you said you were going to inform the public and let us address issues related to city costs.

Now what kind of start have you made on keeping your promises? You did a sneak agenda change and blithely said “It’s an open meeting.” It wasn’t open to me; I had no idea that you were going to discuss something that would cost the city more than $175,000! When people who were there asked for more time, did you listen to them and let them have it? Did you do a cost-benefit analysis and share it with the public at least a week in advance?

I didn’t vote for you to act like Washington, D.C., or Olympia. I voted for honorable people who believe in open communication with taxpayers and a willingness to listen to minority opinions.

How can the public attend meetings to discuss agenda they don’t know about or only have one day to plan for? The newspaper speaks of informal meetings where “positive change” people skirt the sunshine laws. We deserve better from you! It doesn’t belong in Spokane Valley. It certainly doesn’t belong in a council elected on positive change.

Why do I care? Would you hold a sneak agenda change and vote to privatize the library? That would avoid the crowds that otherwise would protest. Would you hold a sneak agenda change and vote to give “sweetheart” zoning changes? Would you hold a sneak agenda and make other changes that cost over $100,000?

I want you to set rules of conduct where sneak agenda changes are not allowed. Don’t skirt around sunshine laws; you don’t need to hide anything from the public.

Spokane Valley public should have at least a week advance notice of all items on the agenda, including e-mail notices and posting on the Web site. All items that cost money should have a written cost-benefit analysis done in advance and shared with the public at least a week in advance of a vote. Private city-business meetings should not be held. Agendas and minutes should be posted on the city Web site and e-mailed to people who sign up for city e-mail lists.

Please, don’t do any more sneak agenda changes. Give time for working people to adjust their schedules to attend on issues they care about. Give time for citizens to analyze issues and provide written responses. Go beyond the legal minimum of Washington state “sunshine laws” and recognize that people in Spokane Valley deserve true “positive change.” If the majority of the attendees of the audience do not agree with the council, I would like you to have the courtesy to ask for written analysis and postpone a vote.

I voted for honorable people who spoke of positive change and listening to the citizens. Somehow you have lost sight of your promises. I didn’t want business as usual. Please get back to actions that match your words.

Margaret Mortz lives in Spokane Valley. She can be reached by e-mail at mmortz@gmail.com.


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