Collaborative, civil City Council debate appreciated | Letter | Sept. 30
September 30, 2011 · 12:50 PM
I watched the Sept. 21 City Council meeting on my computer last night, curious after seeing statements by Kim Hendrickson regarding her former role as Secretary/Chief Examiner of the city’s Civil Service Commission taken to the viral level by her and others in local blogs and emails, capped by the Review’s editorial accusation of council’s self-righteous stalemates.
It pains me to think how many people might form opinions based on the sheer volume of recent statements in their inboxes that were reinforced by Review assertions of council ineffectiveness. It made me wonder if I watched the same meeting opined in the editorial.
The Review’s characterization of the current council as dysfunctional and its statement that there were only “moments” of clarity in the mind numbingly long meeting demeans council and staff alike, when in fact city business was conducted in a thoughtful, careful, and professional manner by both staff and elected officials throughout the five-hour meeting.
All seven council members proceeded through the evening’s lengthy agenda with collaboration, clarification and civil debate, supported by comments and answered questions from a professional, well-prepared staff.
Things heated up late when Ms. Hendrickson gave an angry, impassioned speech, cheered by an enthusiastic, clapping support group in the audience, who were apparently willing to support accusations without benefit of input from the volunteer commissioners being accused of wrongdoing
Council continued to maintain its thoughtful collaborative approach, despite the obvious differences of opinion about how to handle the issue, and one emotional outburst when a councilor attempted to use personal examples to empathize with what it feels like to be accused of an ethics violation.
I thought the low point of the evening was council member Knobloch’s comment that his worst nightmare had come true... “being surrounded by four lawyers on the council.”
Lawyer jokes aside, this was a cheap shot only worsened by the inference in the editorial that we are poorly served by having a city manager and four of seven council members with a law school education.
Indeed, council member Scales’ thorough review of existing city and state tools for addressing the serious accusations leveled by Ms. Hendrickson, and the council’s 6-1 vote to support his suggested process to address this and any future accusations against volunteer, citizen-appointed commissioners assures me that our community is well served.
Council appropriately does not agree on all issues, but clearly works to find common ground in the face of strongly held differing opinions.
When did a 6-1 vote become a stalemate? As a citizen, I am grateful for the courage exhibited by council members who remained civil and asserted with calm authority to a heckling audience their commitment to justice and fair representation of all sides of an issue.
To council members and city staff: Thank you all, for your service to Bainbridge Island. And to the editor: thank you for your opinions, even the ones I disagree with.