There has been some talk lately about the council taking charge and proposing some of their own legislation (pool rates and youth bus rides). I asked a friend this morning what he thought of the new and improved city council? His response, â€œIt’s about time they grew a sack.â€ I was kind of thinking the same thing, though Erickson and Erpenbach may not appreciate the clichÃ©.
The Argus Leader recently polled readers on their website asking what they thought of the council being contentious and if it was a good thing. There was close to 400 voters and over 80% approved, which was enlightening.
Government works best when the checks and balances (executive and legislative branches, Mayor/Council) check each other’s work and intentions. Debate and discussion only improve our system of municipal government. The mayor is NOT King and the council simply his subjects. When the mayor doesn’t get things done through resolution or just refuses to do anything, the council has the power to bring forth their own legislation, and they are quickly learning that it works when they all work together and discuss these thing in the open (public meetings) nothing good comes from closed door meetings with the mayor and sub-committees.
I would like the Council to go further and advise the Charter Revision Commission to change charter so that the Mayor is no longer running the meetings. He should sit in the audience and break a tie if necessary. Or even better, change the council to a 7 member council so there would not be any tie votes. After Mayor Huether’s performance in the last council meeting where he got up to chide another councilor and ultimately edited from the video (Public Record), it is apparent that he is being more disruptive to the meetings then productive. He consistently tried cutting off council members when they were trying to discuss deferral of the pool rate increase.
He doesn’t want debate or dissent, but it seems the public is all in favor. The continental congress debated for hours on end, some members would take the floor for hours. The mayor seems to think that there are time limits on council meetings and on democracy.
After five years, he still has a lot to learn about government.