I have two issues I would like to draw to people’s attention.
My first concern is quite simple. I do believe that the criticism the Council has received regarding the secrecy of the NRC has some merit. My point is that we all can share in that blame. It does not matter what sort of regulations or charter a government has when it comes to transparency. What matters is having a citizenry that is present and involved. To offer an example, there were at least three months of public discussion regarding water-rate increases between staff and the council. Only Monika Greisenbeck and Jim Miller spoke up.
I was amazed by the lack of involvement. I thought the question of how do we assure quality water and how do we assure we do not send our excrement down river, and how we should pay for it would be core issues, and yet almost no one offered any opinion. To not be present at the beginning of a project is not helpful. An involved citizen is paying attention to government all the time, not just after they have gotten a bill.
A window may as well not be transparent if no one is looking through it and, most of the time, when it comes to Salida city government, no one is. One could accuse the City Council of not being as transparent as they could be, and at times, that accusation could be valid. Just as accurately, one could accuse the citizens of Salida of not showing the interest necessary to make the democratic process work and abdicating their role by not being witnesses and actors in the local governmental process. To create transparency is not just the obligation of the City Council. There is an equal obligation of the city’s residents.
My second point, I will illustrate by saying that as a paramedic I was treated more politely and with greater respect by the heroin users in Rio Arriba County than I was treated by certain members in our area during my four years a mayor of Salida. If anything, this uncivil behavior has worsened since I stepped down. To this day, I am mystified why we cannot disagree and still be kind.
I am pleading with everyone in our city to understand it is possible to disagree and still be civil. We do not know how to discuss issues. We only seem to be able to talk at each other, rather than to each other. We are seeking to WIN, which means someone must lose. The real desire should be to come to a compromise that we can all call a solution. I am requesting all parties focus on being polite and respectful even when they disagree. Without having civility be the first rule of civic engagement we guarantee anger, frustration and hatred. Even if your side prevails, the damage to the civic fabric will not make any outcome an outcome of value.
Thank you for your time.