I’ll have a full report tomorrow but for a quick update the city council decided not to move forward on the ward/district proposal by a 4-3 decision. The Regions building has been cut as an option for solving our police space needs; instead the council would like bids for remodeling the current Law Enforcement Center or building a new building on or near the current campus.
Ok, here’s some notes I took on the ward/district referendum debate last night:
Larry Foster still insisted that he feared wards or alderman would invite corruption. He also said that voters had already made their wishes known, regarding change, in defeating the ChangeDecatur proposition earlier this year. He urged those seeking change to either run for council or get behind someone they believe in.
Pat Laegeler didn’t say a whole lot but pretty much agreed with Foster. He said that it is “all about the people sitting up here”.
McElroy said that the current system isn’t perfect but you have take the good with the bad. He also referred to ChangeDecatur’s failed proposition and pointed out that only 14% voted for the change. He also said the problem is the people on the council not so much the system.
Edwards was fine with the ward/district question going to the voters as long as the council could decide the district boundaries and the number of people in each. He said that many people view the current council as “elitist” and out of touch. Edwards also brought up the point that part of the reason the ChangeDecatur proposition failed was because the former mayor Paul Osborne and councilman Dan Caulkins suggested the hybrid “compromise”. He also claimed that, in the current system, anyone wanting to beat an incumbent better have about $25,000 raised. Stockard disagreed visibly with this remark.
Stockard stressed the importance of “unity” and “communication” and invited people to come to the council meetings in person to see how things work – or don’t work.
Mayor Carrigan was in favor in placing the question on the ballot, but by the time the question got to him, four votes were already counted against the proposal, so he didn’t say a whole lot.
If the question had been allowed to go to the voters, I’m not 100% certain I would have voted in favor of it – though I probably would have. However, as many pros as I could think of regarding district representation, I could think up just as many cons. I have to disagree with the statements, however, made by some council members suggesting that the voters had already spoken regarding change. The ChangeDecatur’s proposition earlier this year, regarded reverting the city back to a commission form of government, hardly the same change they were discussing last night. It’s a very weak argument to make claiming that the voters have already decided against change, of any kind, in our council makeup. That isn’t true. Councilman Edwards made a good point that possibly part of the reason ChangeDecatur’s proposition failed, was because of the hybrid compromise Caulkins and Mayor Osborne proposed just a few weeks before the election. I would have liked to have seen more council members with open minds last night, but I think many council members had made up their minds, a long time ago.
That being said, I would like to see us move forward now and that those seeking change work within the system we have. It is a democratic system, no not perfect, but something I can live with. If our city government problems are people related, we can change THAT, come April 2009!