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Monday, October 19, 2009

Janesville City Council - It's Time For Change

Council Agenda Excerpt:
The Janesville Gazette has requested that the City Council meetings be regularly scheduled to start at 6:30 pm rather than 7:00 pm.
Gazette Editors Explanation: (newspaper excerpt)
Our request lost Monday night, even though the council voted 4 - 2 to support it. The issue isn't dead, though. Councilman Tom McDonald appears to favor an even earlier start - 6 p.m. - and he voted against our proposal so he could bring the issue back in two weeks.
(I inserted the emphasis.) Yet it was a different council member, Yuri Rashkin, who suddenly felt it necessary to propose the motion to exceed the Gazette's request.


Appearing to come out of the blue, Rashkin made the motion for 6PM - and it failed with or without the vote from absent council member Russ Steeber. I bring that up because the councilman's motion for 6PM seemed like a effort to divert attention away from McDonald's previous tactical efforts on behalf of the Gazette. This I admit is a hunch on my part, but a strong one based upon these observations.

The other point here being, in an even greater maneuver, was the vote by Councilman Tom McDonald on the 6:30 vote. While the rest of the city council appeared to have debated in good faith and eventually voted directly on the Gazette's request, he was voting on something a little different. Without making a motion to do so, McDonald was casting a vote meant to manipulate the outcome just enough to afford (himself?!) the opportunity to bring everything back on another date, but in order to do so, he officially denied the Gazette's request. This of course not only smacks of collusion, it also adds to a growing mountain of questionable council decisions and interactions that have succeeded only when others have willfully allowed the process to fail.

As an citizen observer and taxpayer, I would maintain that the outcome from Monday's council vote be officially official, but I'm not a spiteful guy. My opinion on this particular episode isn't about opposing the Gazette or their time change request, and this isn't about opposing an elected office holder. This is about maintaining some semblance of good government - period. Just for perspective, had I been on the council (don't worry I'm not running), I would have voted in favor of the Gazette's request. At the same time I would have blown a gasket knowing a couple of my fellow council members appear to be "operating," to put it nicely.

But if this is a normal and acceptable procedure, then I would suggest every council action decided during the absence of a council member be brought back for an "official" full council ballot, or repeated until the outcome pleases at least one or two special individuals. Of course that is a ridiculous notion, but it is what is the Janesville City Council as it now stands.

In yesterday's paper, the Gazette editor spends the greater part of his editorial explaining why the newspaper requested the time change. I think everyone gets that. What I don't get are the political stunts being pulled at city hall while the newspaper seems to slough it off as a mere exercise between well-meaning council members. Perhaps that explains it among friends.

Another city council election will be ramping up again giving the people yet another chance to bring good clean government to Janesville. But if it's all between friends looking to advance their friends, and friends keep winning, don't count on good and clean.

Part 2 coming soon: THE FEAR

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