I didn’t want to raise a stink at the commissioners’ meeting on January 23, but how else was I to get my point across? Doing so appeared to have brought the media out to see what I was going to say; and doing so also appeared to have had an effect significant enough that — rest assured Davenport residents — our city manager will not likely allow ballot information to go out late again, ever.
A quick thank you, “Thank you!” to The Ledger’s Gary White, who covered the meeting on a very tight schedule. The best part of his coverage, to me, was that he gave a little history of the contention between the opposing views in our community. (To read their article, click on The Ledger icon.) Also, thank you, Gary, for not mentioning that I left the meeting just as soon as I was finished talking.
I was angry but it wasn’t because I had expected the commissioners to act on the sanction I had requested, which was a day off for our city manager, Amy Arrington, to reflect. I was angry that our commissioners IMHO continue to get played by an old-style bureaucrat.
The way I look at January 23rd is this way: By the very act of asking for a reprimand, I reprimanded Amy for the commissioners. Commissioners: You are welcome!
With the exception of our Mayor Darlene Bradley, who generally sides with citizens anyway, the commissioners didn’t seem to think that Amy’s mishandling of this issue rose to the level egregious. Okay. Maybe it didn’t, but given the responses The Ledger reported, I’d have to say, clearly three commissioners don’t believe that adequate public education about upcoming elections is critical to the democratic rule of thumb in our little community.
For example, Bobby Lynch said, “If citizens are concerned, they would be at meetings.” I’ve heard that argument before and find it, coming from an elected official, wrong at so many levels, it’s saddening. If you only knew some of the people in my neighborhood.
- The voter I know who works two, sometimes three, jobs to support two learning-disabled adults who were denied their right to social security disability benefits.
- The two long-time volunteers I know who, since last year, no longer volunteer for their city
- The one minority woman voter I know who was fired by the same city who still periodically asks for her volunteer her work
- Me, who was discouraged from volunteering for two years before I met Darlene Bradley, then Crystal Williams.
Crystal Williams, an educator who “disputed the notion that Davenport residents are unaware” of the upcoming election, clearly knows the voters in the know. To be sure, after the 1/23 meeting, a substantially higher number of residents are now really aware of the referendum. After The Ledger article — even more residents are now way beyond acutely aware. But do they what they’re voting for?
No objective, public education campaign exists, save for Darhlene.com, Davenport Concerned Citizens, and the comments that could be fit on a one-page ballot with eleven proposals. That’s a failure.
Most of our residents don’t know the opposing views, the impacts, and the consequences, if any, of each of these amendments. The public has a right to be told more than to go look to the municipal code, a code that was not written for the average person to understand.
Tom Fellows and his “uncharted waters” comment led me to review the online Davenport Charter and to a conclusion that he might be at least half-right. On the one hand, the last time the any charter review committee met was some decades ago. However, I note, Mr. Fellows, the teeny tiny letters at the bottom of page one of the online Charter, which notes that the last time our Charter was amended was 2013.
That was the last time residents rose up for their rights. Let’s not forget that experience.
When it comes to our local constitution, us little people demand to know ahead of time … way ahead of time. We also demand objective information and a lot less legalese.