There were numerous votes tonight that I'm sure people will rail against in one form or the other. But I want to focus on what was the most egregious display of anti-democratic policy I have ever seen from local government.
I showed up to the council meeting 10 minutes early only to find numerous people, including Kevin Knuth and Mitch Harper, waiting outside. This summer the council meetings have been moved to a much smaller room on the 2nd floor due to construction being done in the normal meeting space on the 1st floor. However, the council has always accommodated the overflow crowd by allowing them into the Omni room where they could watch the meeting on TV.
This was not the case tonight. The Allen County Homeowners Association had a meeting in the Omni room so those citizens that showed up for the council meeting were locked out - literally. The doors were shut, no video or audio available, and they had security and police watching the door. This is flat out unacceptable. I was told by security that the city clerk was responsible for the decision and as such Sandy Kennedy should be held responsible.
Is this how we want local government to operate in this city - behind locked doors guarded by security forces? Is that democracy? This overflow was certainly no surprise. Two weeks ago there were 50 people that overflowed into the Omni room and there were no substantive Harrison Square or property tax debates. Tonight we had anti-smoking ban discussion, Harrison Square votes and property tax discussion. Who in their right mind would actually think that room would accommodate everyone? They knew it wouldn't - they just don't give a damn. This administration has thumbed their nose at public oversight for the last year and tonight was the last straw.
Can the clerk not call up the public library and/or the Grand Wayne Center to reserve meeting space? This was an absolute failure of leadership and government. When the people are forcibly removed from the democratic process before a controversial meeting - well something has to change. Have the voters had enough?
I had a friend that showed up tonight for her first ever council meeting only to be greeted with this Stalin-esque display. But maybe that's the point - to discourage citizen participation. It wouldn't surprise me one bit but I will be contacting our new state Public Access Counselor and asking her for a ruling on the matter. I will personally sue the city if required. Those that read this blog know that one of my biggest issues is transparent government - we did not have that tonight and every single person involved should be ashamed...