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Whose City is This?

by on 11/17/2009

Mayor Haakenson,

I attended the public meeting at the Port last night, in which Mark Hinshaw and two other consultants outlined a framework for a plan for development of the Port properties. In this email I will address the process, not the content, of the meeting last night.

Edmonds citizens have very strong feelings about development on the Waterfront properties and, as you know, I am one of those citizens. Our elected representatives, as public servants, are charged with providing venues to allow all citizens to express their opinions. At the Port meeting last night, my comments were interrupted by an angry tirade from a member of the Planning Board. The moderator of the meeting, Bruce Faires, did nothing to stop the tirade and allow me to continue my comments. Instead, he joined with the other man in criticizing my input.

I have seen a similar process in City Council meetings. As Mayor, you set the tone for Council meetings, and the tone you set is adversarial. You regularly challenge citizen input at the meetings. It is my understanding that the three-minute comment period is for citizens to express their opinions on any issue “regarding matters not listed on the Agenda as Closed Record Review,” however, you use your position of power to berate and belittle citizens and to support your own political agenda.

An example of this is when you asked Diane Buckshnis, following her input to council, if she was a CPA. This was clearly an attempt to discredit Diane’s input and a thinly veiled way for you to demonstrate your support for Strom Peterson. This abuse of your power as an elected official is especially hypocritical as you meticulously stop citizens who are commenting at Council from referencing, or even wearing labels, supporting candidates for office.

I have copied four citizens who were present at the meeting last night on this email. I’m certain that everyone who has been present at recent Council meetings can think of examples of your modeling of uncivil behavior that they have observed or been the target of. The result of the adversarial tone is that it is very difficult to muster the courage to get up in front of council and speak, even for someone as outspoken as I am. I find that I have to be emotionally and physically prepared to handle any abuse that might be forthcoming.

I am disheartened that this pattern of incivility has spread to the Planning Board and to the Port public meetings. I request that you and each Council Member do everything in your power to reverse this trend.

I had every intention of participating in the public hearing on the Sustainability Element of the comprehensive plan at Council tonight, however, after what happened last night, I choose not to subject myself to that level of stress on consecutive nights. I will send my comments on the plan in a separate email to Mayor and Council.

Joan Bloom

From → Edmonds

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