There is power in having the last word. Even when the last word is incorrect or a distortion of the conversation that preceded it. Just ask any number of Boca Raton residents that have had the courage or taken the time to speak about an issue of importance to them during the “Public Comments” segment at a City Council meeting. Of course the residents never get the last word. That’s left to the City Council.
So, You Say You Want a Raise?
For years, I have witnessed with disbelief, which turned to frustration, which in turn grew to anger at a City Council that consistently chose to diminish a resident’s comment or turn it into something unintended with no chance of rebuttal by the resident.
The most recent example, and there are many, occurred at the City Council Workshop on March 7th. Al Zucaro (Publisher of this blog) pointed out, during public comments that members of our Council collectively serve on at least thirteen outside boards/organizations. Certain members of the Council have used this outside involvement as justification for a salary increase. Mr. Zucaro mentioned that, to date, there is no official statement on the public record from our elected officials as to what happens at these meetings. Nor is there any record of what our council members, who are our representatives, support or don’t support on the matters that affect our City.
The organizations in question often hold sway on matters of local, regional and statewide issues. These issues oftentimes have a direct impact on our City and its residents. The request of Mr. Zucaro was fairly straightforward: Let us know the issues and let us know exactly where you stand on the issues.
We Can Handle the Mundane
In what seemed like a dismissive fashion, Council Members addressed the issue with comments such as: 1) The information is on the internet where you can look up the agendas and minutes. 2) The information is too boring or tedious to report. 3) Residents can attend the meetings. 4) I’m not a voting member…
The last item is noteworthy as it refers to Mayor Susan Haynie’s comment related to her influential position on the Florida League of Cities as that Board recently supported a measure that could stymie a citizens right to access public records. It was only through the editorial articles of major media, which spoke against this action, that this came to light.
These types of responses come across as nothing more than a deflection or avoidance in an effort to minimize the resident’s clear and fair request.
The Residents Deserve Accountability!
Here’s a news flash to our City Council…You work for us, the citizens. No matter how small or large the amount, we pay your salary. Report to us those matters that affect our City from the Board’s on which you sit. Most important, tell us what you support or don’t support and why. We want to hear it directly from you. We should not have to research these issues or attend meetings.
We, the residents will decide what is tedious and boring. We the residents will decide what is important or unimportant. And stop missing the point – intentionally.
Thank you George, well done….one point worth mentioning is that since, to my knowledge, there never has been public discussion on any items these committees consider, how does the elected official of Boca Raton become enabled to take any position?
On those committees where more than one Boca Raton City Council member holds position, one assumes that our elected officials are not conversing off the record, (illegally), to formulate a representative vote/position for the Boca Raton body politic on this third party committee’s issue.
Logically then, if there is no enabling discussion by the City Council in City Hall chamber and there is no private, off the record (illegal) conversation with appointed Boca Raton council members, then the opinion/vote of our elected official on this extracurricular body must simply be their individual opinion; an opinion of a Boca Raton resident, a person, not representative of the body politic of Boca Raton…..
Such prohibitive conduct ought not be a basis to justify the requested salary increase for Council members; such conduct should be declared prohibitive conduct in the scope of our elected official’s duty as a representative voice of the residents of Boca Raton. Al Zucaro
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