Friday, September 28, 2007

Tom Hayhurst's City Council Comments

Ok, here's the video of Tom Hayhurst's comments at Tuesday's city council meeting that I promised. Let me just say, that contrary to Dr Tom, I don't think it takes a whole lot of restraint to listen to 5 minutes worth of citizen comments twice a month. I also strenuously object to his characterization that somehow he and the other councilmembers are vastly more informed than the rest of us. Also, what is with the town hall complaint? Every citizen has a right to go to the meetings - it's their own fault if they choose not to participate. And just for the record, we understand that you and the other councilmembers talk to numerous constituents. We're not asking for preferential treatment - we're simply taking advantage of an opportunity to spread a message we feel is important. That's the very foundation of the democratic process and should not be met with such contempt.

However, I'm sure others will have a different point of view than myself and I'd like to get your thoughts so tell me what you think in the comments...


Robert Enders said...

1. You need a thick skin to run for office at all.
2. Knowing a lot about an issue isn't going to cut it if most of the information that you know comes only from one side. A citizen may know less about Harrison Square than a councilman, but he might know more about the alternatives, so the councilman should hear him out.
3. Consdering what is at stake, there isn't any such thing as too much information.
4. I don't think he's the kind of guy who makes his vote based on the number of people who are for and against. There are plenty of supporters and opponents of any given measure who cannot make it to every council meeting. I think the key when you have the floor at a council meeting is to not parrot what the twelve guys who went before you said, but to give your own reason for your position.

Hayhurst has a right to complain, though. Most jobs can be frustrating. Sometimes it feels good to vent in front of your boss, and that's what he's doing.

Anonymous said...

He definitely seemed to be talking down to not only the people that spoke but the citizens in general.

To be honest, and I am not attacking him, I have always thought that Hayhurst seemed to be in a very frustrate mood all the time. From his body language to his tone he just doesn't seem to be all that happy for whatever reason.

J Q Taxpayer said...

First, I think Tom blew his cork. But that is not Tom. I think there is something behind it that triggered his outburst. But maybe instead of blowing his cork he would look into the issues that had him so up set.

As far as Tom Hayhurst input:

Tom should dig out the old City Council meeting tapes when he first elected to council. I think he will now agree he ask some pretty dumb questions. Let alone made some stupid comments on things he had yet to learn.

The public or other council members did not jump on him about it. They gave him a pass as he learned.

Up until now I always respected Dr. Hayhurst. Friendly guy, open to others, and seemed to care. I might have disagreed with his vote or even his reasons for voting some way but I knew where he was coming from.

Mr. Enders is also right and people that feel they are not being heard will either shut up or start to raise the level of their voice higher and higher. See, as an legal resident of the United States of America we have not lost that right yet!!!!

Happy White Boy said...

I tend to agree with Hayhurst. He may be too depreciative of those who comment, but he's civil in his comments, and he's stating fact. The city council cannot support a meeting representative of constituents, nor do most constituents have the time to attend meetings.

I, too, would be agitated if I were lectured by citizens (and some blow-hards) who represent a sliver of the real constituency. He just needs to demonstrate some grace, and an understanding that it important for voters to access officials in many venues.


Jennifer Jeffrey, Chair LPAC said...

I am not sure any of you understood who spoke that night. It wasn't exactly a sliver of the voters. They were people who represented a great deal of many other people and their organizations.

Yes, I made an impassioned plea for the council not to quit working before the election, thinking anything was all sewn up. I made that plea on behalf of thousands of emails and people I have talked to just this past month. Let alone the number of phone calls and letters which come to me.

There are many many people who are not all right with the current actions or inactions City Council has taken/not taken in regards to many issues.

I, as well as others, stepped forward as representative of real people trying to get their attention and possibly some action on their behalf towards our common goals.

Dr. Hayhurst and other supporters of some controversial issues are, indeed, getting a lot of input. Unfortunately, it is the strange polarity that people will seek out others who support them. What we need to do as leaders on both sides is to see that there are commonalities with the stances we take on issues and use those to move forward instead of this heightened attack mode our political environment has become.

I think it is time the leaders of several organizations, both for and against the largest issues, come together and see where we can make lemons out of the very sour and damaging lemonade.

Sheri said...

After reading the various blog posts about this so-called outburst, I was expecting much worse.

I think he was completely justified in his remarks and wasn't awful. I have no issue with what he said. I wouldn't have issue with anyone saying exactly what he did.

Scott Greider said...

I was sitting in the front row that evening, and though I appreciated seeing passionate citizens approach the mike, I also sympathized with Dr. Hayhurst's response. From what I recall, interspersed with respectable disagreement was a fair amount of invective. I think he made one comment without thinking (the one about knowing more than any of those who spoke), but overall he was simply appealing for a little respect in the job they do.

And based on my experience with him, he's earned it. I had a measure come before Council twice (essentially). The first time was while I was still in NYC and Hayhurst voted against me. Then I came back, got the measure on the agenda again, and set about lobbying all the councilmen. Even though he voted no the first time, and said he was inclined to do so again, he accepted my invitation to meet me at my building (which was up for historic designation) while he was kidsitting his two grandchildren, walk through it with me, listen to me argue my case, before having to run to get his grandkids to their next appointment. He ended up voting against me a second time, as did Crawford, who, likewise, took the time to meet with me at my building also!, but at least he did it from a very informed position. He knew very well what he believed and for what he was voting against. He worked hard to cast an informed vote. And even though he voted against me, I respected him and his vote very much!

Jeff Pruitt said...


You have no issue whatsoever with what he said? That surprises me.

Thanks for the comment. Good to hear from someone else that was there...

Phil Marx said...

Scott Greider,

I think that your use of invective here fairly applies to some of the speakers, myself included. But that does not mean that our words were unfair.

Through their lack of full disclosure and an unwillingness to engage in a deliberative discussion about Harrison Square, the Fort Wayne City Council has made a joke of the entire project. My use of satire was simply meant to reflect this.

And let's not forget that Jacqui's cartoon was actually John Crawford's cartoon. She only used it to illustrate the point that she felt that he was belittling the people by employing cartoons for his argument.

Now, Ben Lanka used both of us to exemplify the strange behaviour of citizens that night. But he failed to realize that it was the Councils own strange behaviour which elicited these comments.

As to the "outbursts" of Hayhurst and other members, I am not as offended as others seem to be, and this is why.

The outrageous behavoiur of some members of city council, and their assumption that citizen's would just sit back and take it, was an implication that we are all morons. So, my response to them calling me a moron was to go before them and say "Yeah, well you're a d--- moron." Juvenile perhaps, but certainly a justified response.

Hayhurst's comments approached the equivalant of "Oh Yeah, well you're a f------ moron, you d--- idiot." So, Hayhurst's comments may have been only a slight escalation from the rhetoric he has received from myself and others.

But, let's look at someone like Jeff Pruitt. His comments to the Council are usually sober and respectful. So, when the council responds to that with "You're a f------ moron", I can understand why he'd be upset.

If Hayhurst had an issue with what a particular person had said, then I think he should have specified this. His failure to do so made it appear as though his statement was intended for everyone.