April 4, 2023
There was no “Town Hall” on 03/28/23 . . . a Town Hall has dialogue and interaction between elected officials and citizens. Only one brief interaction occurred when council members asked the first speaker a few questions.
Last Tuesday’s meeting more resembled an emotion-charged public hearing with people sharing their opinions in order to persuade council members to vote a particular way.
Except . . . this was NOT a public hearing. There were NO decisions before the council requiring a public hearing or a vote. Instead, the public was duped into thinking that what we had to say “mattered” . . . it did NOT.
Actual public hearings do not have a one-hour time limit. Nor does the mayor cherry-pick who gets to speak and who doesn’t. But that’s what occurred at the Town Hall as we witnessed the mayor cherry-picking names from two sign-up sheets with NO consideration given to those arriving early to sign-up and ensure they would get to speak! He also bypassed three individuals (myself included) who signed up to speak about “other” issues, telling the audience that everyone on the sign-up sheets was there to talk about the Library issue. Not true!
The mayor and council believe Town Halls are a replacement for public comment because they allow for more interaction. HA! Really? According to an East Idaho News article, the mayor said he’d like to hold a Town Hall every four months (these were discontinued in the past supposedly due to low turnout.) Are you kidding me? Three Town Halls per year (with no required quorum) and the mayor choosing who does and doesn’t get to speak publicly is a replacement for a public comment period held twice per month? That’s an emphatic “No!”
The mayor’s statement and the low-turnout rationale for eliminating regular Town Halls conflicts completely with more recent actual events. Reporting by the ISJ and LocalNews 8 on 3/28/23 show council chambers filled to capacity with citizens overflowing into the lobby (standing-room only) due to overcrowding! And, turnout at the last Town Hall in February 2020 was also very high.
Council members Cheatum, Leeuwrik, Mangum, Mansfield, Marchand, and Nichols – end this nonsense and USE THE AUTHORITY given to you by the citizens of this City to RESTORE PUBLIC COMMENT! It only takes a quorum of four to call for a special meeting and enact a policy.
This type of bad decision is exactly WHY there is a separation of powers—so “the People” are NOT abused by an elected leader whose actions more closely resemble those of a king rather than a representative of the People.
SIGN THE PETITION TO RESTORE PUBLIC COMMENT
Lydia Noble is a long-time resident of Pocatello, a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, and recently retired from a 30-year career at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) as a Business Professional. She co-founded Pocatello for Accountable Government Entities (P.A.G.E.) on FB out of concern about Pocatello’s high property taxes and to work to ensure that retirees on fixed incomes are able to continue residing in Pocatello.