First is that City Manager Barker said she had received and reviewed the report on the CRA Spending by the City prepared by the Brevard County Clerk of the Courts’ Office.
Ms. Barker said she believed the City should respond immediately and she would meet with each Council member individually to discuss the response.
Last year when the issue with a response to JLAC was proposed and worked on by the City, the actual response was brought forth in a Council meeting so that the public could see the response. We hope the City takes the same open approach to the response and votes on the response in an open Council meeting.
The big issue of the night was the fertilizer ordinance. We cannot remember when more people outside of the City spoke on any issue.
There were a couple of things that struck us. First was the phrase “the science says” was used a great deal. We see similar statements on the internet. “Science says” is a close cousin to “a study says.” Once in awhile you have to wonder where the science and where the studies are so that the “science” or the “study” can be vetted. (It is a minor pet peeve of ours.)
Secondly, once again there was a call by a citizen that information the Council receives be given to the public.
Obviously, there are several issues with that. We aren’t sure that emails sent to individual Council members should be made public if the emails are not distributed to all Council members. If a citizen writes to a Council member and the Council member wishes to bring the gist of the email forward in the meeting, that is fine with us as citizens are getting the same information as other Council members (and at the same time.) However, documents that are going to be used by the Council members in their decision making process should be be available to the public.
We fully understand the idea of time constraints. Obviously if the Council receives a document at 5:00 PM on the day of a Council meeting, it may be unreasonable to expect the City staff to make copies of the documentation – hard copies or electronic copies – before that night’s meeting.
In our opinion, as ordinances are presented to the community twice before final approval, as long as the citizens have an ability to view the documents before the final, second vote, we can live with that.
The City government, as with all governments, should strive to keep citizens informed. Informed citizens are engaged citizens.
Times have changed. The ability to exchange information has changed as well.
We not only have to realize that change, but seek to use that change to the benefit of the citizenry.