2011-06-09 / Letters

Mayor and council should be committed to responsibilities

TO THE EDITOR:

I read with dismay the physical reaction by a member of the Washington City Council when at his request a resident met with him after the meeting and presented him with an opinion or viewpoint he didn’t like. Not knowing the City Councilman who was involved personally, nor the conversation that resulted in the altercation at the end of the City Council meeting, I can only tell you that any violent reaction by a person and more importantly a civic leader to a differing opinion is a clear indication that this person lacks the selfcontrol and good judgment required to consistently conduct themselves in a professional manner when addressing the important needs of the community. In all cases the proper response to an allegation, if that was the cause of the anger and physical advance by the councilman, would have been to bring in a group of independent forensic examiners or forensic auditors to perform an external review of the issue or issues at hand. This action would have provided an unbiased assessment of the issue as well as an answer to the issue that is informative and above reproach. This same approach is also available to the citizens of the community if they believe that the City Council did not follow the rules or spirit of fairness during a procurement process. If the city will not provide an audit then the citizens should get a petition signed by all of the concerned residents of Washington and go to the State Attorney General or Governor with their issue seeking an investigation or seek legal counsel to form a citizens group to raise funds to approach the court to order the issue opened for review by external examiners or auditors. At no time should violence be the answer.

Relative to the swimming pool bids, during my career which included public and government service the standard has always been at least three bids have to be received. If three bids are not received then the procurement is sent out again. If after that process only one bid is received the project, if it is not an emergent need, should be put on hold until a reasonable answer can be found as to why only one bid was received. The prudent approach would then be to put the one bid out to vote by the public to determine if they believe the cost is fair. As I said above I can only speak from experience but throughout my career this system of bidding projects has been the standard to insure fairness and insure the procurement is above reproach. A citizen of Washington with a little effort was able to get several bids from vendors that would have provided significantly more than they are getting now for well over $400,000.00. Had the City Council used better judgment and the resources of their own community instead of working in a vacuum to push through a political rather than community focused project they would not be in the embarrassing position they are in now, a position that has the potential to deal a severe blow to their integrity and possibly their electability in the future.

If a community’s elected government is to function, grow, prosper and most importantly maintain its integrity the governing body must be relied upon to make the right decisions for the community as a whole and justify those decisions without violently reacting to questions or concerns raised by the citizens of the community.

In a civilized society there is no justification for the reaction that occurred after the city council meeting the other night, to maintain its integrity the City Council must step up to the plate and publicly condemn this conduct by one of its members. If the City Councilman who was involved has already resigned his position as a result of this occurrence I applaud his decision, if he hasn’t I hope he has realized he must if the city council is to continue to be productive. If he decides not to resign then the city council must call for his resignation as he [apparently] does not have the control to effectively to carry out the job he was elected to perform.

Relative to the a member of the City Council not voting on the motion made by one of the city council members regarding the swimming pool project this refusal to do his job leads me to believe that this person does not have the courage to manage in the best interest of the community. His responsibility is to lead which means he has to be able to make decisions based on the best interest of the community as a whole, have the courage to vote for the right thing for the community, which in many cases may differ from what he wants personally, then stand and face his critics if there are any and defend his decision with logic and reliable information.

If the information is not at hand to allow this member of the City Council to vote then the vote should be extended to the next city council meeting with a requirement that an independent source develop the information required, publish the information for the community and this member of the City Council so this person can then vote at that meeting to bring the issue to closure not just allow the issue to fall into limbo.

To the mayor and the members of the city council I sincerely hope you are committed to your sole and only responsibility which is to represent all of the people who live in Washington not just those within a selected electoral area or just those who voted for you. Remember, representing your community is an honor given to you by the people, by accepting that role your responsibility is to do well for the entire community, if you fail in that responsibility when you least expect it the members of the community will remind you through the electoral process.

Dr. Christopher M. Frasier

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