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Concerns Expressed About City Council Meetings

To The Reader’s Forum:

I have been watching City Council meetings more than a few times in 2020.

I would like to recap a few concerns I have seen at these meetings.

The amount of time wasted is astounding. For example, three months talking about where to put ONE food cart. It was an endless, blathering discussion. Maddening to listen to. There is very little productive proactive thinking. It’s reactive. New ideas are not easily welcomed. I don’t hear them talking about creating jobs, expanding the tax base, or poverty in the City.

There was a vote just this month on an insurance change for retired city workers. Mayor Sundquist came up with a plan to save, perhaps 1.1 millions dollars. The retirees would lose no benefits, they would just have a different insurance company covering the benefits, from what I understood. The council, without much deep thought on the merits of this idea (that I could tell), quickly voted against it. What no one mentioned is there are three members of the Council, and/or their immediate family members covered by this insurance. The same insurance they were voting on! If this doesn’t have the appearance of a conflict of interest, I don’t know what does. Those three members should have recused themselves. It was outrageous.

Then there was the vote on the Recreational Coordinator position. Some of the council members who spoke after hearing constituent letters were completely inappropriate. Several members of the community wrote very polite, heartfelt letters asking that the position remain. Instead of listening with an open mind and responding in an appropriate way the Council members became indignant and outraged that anyone would question their motives. That’s not the way Government works. Julia Ciesla-Hanley, who held the position, had every right to write the public letter she did informing the public what was going on. I found Ms.Ecklund’s disparaging remarks about Ms.Ciesla-Hanley exercising her first amendment right, again, inappropriate.

Finally, the new mayor came up with some good ideas to save or generate money. The council said no to most everything. Change is hard for them, and that is a bad sign for the future. If this city is going to move forward, and it must, many of the people on the council need not run for another term. If you are on the council and you have been there more than ten years, you are a part of the problem, you are not part of the solution. Thank you for your service.

Like thee mighty oaks of Third Street, your time has come and past. You have become an impediment to progress.

It is time for you to let a new generation take over the reigns to the city.

Tom Andalora

Jamestown

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