Friday, August 2, 2013

Responsibilities of a Councilman

When we elect our Council members, we expect them to represent the Citizens of our City.  They need to make the best decisions they can about the issues presented to them.  It's their responsibility to get the information they need to make informed decisions.  That's the job.

Council members have the ability to speak with department heads, the City Treasurer, the City Attorney, and the other experts in the areas that they need to to make informed decisions.  Councils do set policy but it's more than that.  They are the double check to the City.  They are our representatives and we expect them to make tough decisions.

At the last public meeting for the City of Chubbuck budget (July 30, 2013), Council President Kevin England stated that the Council was not meant to micro-manage the budget.  Their job is to set policy and only examine the line by line expenditures of each department if there is a noticeable disregard of the set policy.  An example of a policy that Councilman England gave of policy is setting capital improvement line items.  It seems somewhat disingenuous to state that those budgets are set by the departments when the only way they get funded is if the Council sets aside funds for those projects.  Case in point:  Street Maintenance.  Five years ago the Council at that time made street maintenance a priority to start setting aside funds for that purpose.  The goal was to set aside more each year.  In the last four years the budget for street maintenance has a grand total of $30,000.  This year the Council is considering dropping in another $140,000, if the proposed (not published) budget is accepted. I know I am being cynical; however, it seems the timing is suspect when this funding waits until an election year.

The entire budget meeting and the public hearing for the budget is available at www.conversationsforinquiringminds.com/political so that you can watch and make your own decisions but in this office we're giving the current rhetoric a 4 puke bucket rating.

What does that mean?  Well, basically we're disgusted for the following reasons:
  1. No real thought to where each dollar from revenue is going 
  2. Threatening more cuts even though there are other options
  3. The pandering to the public that the Council and City want citizen input when all public forms other than public hearings have disappeared from the City
  4. The misrepresentation of spending not impacting the Taxpayers
  5. Lip service but no real detailed plan to bring commercial businesses to Chubbuck
  6. Complaining about shrinking revenues from the State when this is a condition that has existed for over 10 years.
  7. Acting like only City Budgets "make sense" and portraying the other Government entities as not talking "dollar and cents but no sense."
It is our opinion that Councilman England when speaking in generalities is treating the citizenry like we're too stupid to understand the decisions the Council makes.  His commentary is insulting and demeaning.  In addition, the hollow statements of wanting citizen input is ridiculous when getting the information to make intelligent suggestions is not readily available.  Citizen's currently only have access to the published budget in the legal notices of the Idaho State Journal, not the proposed budget.  To get that, you'll have to go to the City and request a copy of it and any supporting public documents used during the public hearing and public meeting.  How many citizens will know how to do that?

To see more of our commentary, please visit www.conversationsforinquiringminds.com and watch the featured video.  We go into more detail and show what Councilman England's take on what the citizens want is.  

The following is our rating system:

Great Job

Good Try

Talking Points instead of dealing with issue.

Obviously you haven't done any homework.

No consideration for the citizens, just taking the easy way and parroting the Talking Points.

Just saying what the public wants to hear with no intention of taking any feedback seriously.  Condescending,  demeaning, assuming public is too dumb to understand, and basically only interested in how opinion looks not if it's best for community.  In other words, a big fat "F."