Liuzzo: An Active Public Will Improve Transparency

To The Reader’s Forum:

It is my great honor to serve the city of Jamestown as city councilman at-large for the next two years. The unexpected results of this election are testimony that the people of Jamestown are listening and want to see a change in the administration of city government.

At the first meeting on January 8, 2018, I voted no for the motion to suspend the rules concerning the mayor’s appointments. The city’s charter states that each appointee is to be voted in individually; suspending the rule allowed for a “block vote,” which instated committee members en masse.

As a new member of the City Council, I would have liked to have had the opportunity to hear why each individual was an appropriate selection for either commission or board, thus my vote of “no.”

I absolutely support all people who want to give of their time to volunteer. However, as both a new councilman and a Jamestown resident, it was unclear whether the appointees were truly qualified or merely friends of the administration.

I stress my perspective as a city resident because I know that other members of the public weren’t aware of these appointments, either. If we want to have more transparency and a change in how we see city government administered, the public needs to be more active and attentive. We do this by attending the scheduled work and voting sessions, prior to the City Council meetings in the theatre.

Residents’ concerns and opinions are expressed and addressed at these designated work sessions or in the mayor’s conference room, which serve as forums for the public. This is where the council votes on what is presented, where the decisions are made. Any opinions expressed afterward, in the chamber, are moot.

The Post-Journal publishes the times and dates of the works sessions on the region page in the left column. WJTN and WRFA will announce the meetings as well. The opportunity is there for those wanting change and transparency. The city can be held accountable if citizens become more active and involved. Otherwise, officials, either elected or appointed, will make decisions without input from the public.

Andrew R. Liuzzo