They stood up for the people’s right to be fully informed before the council took a vote on the $33 million deal to refinance the bonds on the city-owned hotel-conference center.
Both councilmen voted against the proposal last week when it passed 5-2. They simply wanted to hold off on the vote for a few days to give the public a chance to read the opinions of independent financial and legal advisors – who agreed with the plan and recommended its approval. Chalfant wanted the opinions and the report of a citizens advi-sory committee posted on the city’s Web site. Then, he said, citizens should have the opportunity to speak before the council met.
But for the other council members and Mayor Bill Dunaway, who couldn’t get the deal done fast enough, there was no need to let the citizens participate.
Chalfant knows what the issue is. “It’s not just the bond refinancing, per se,” he said. “It’s the process – giving your citizens the right to see what is transpiring during the process and finally giving them a platform in which to voice their opinion before a vote is taken by the council.”
Council members also should be given advance written explanation of any issue coming before the council, Chalfant said, with ample time to study and ask questions of staff before a vote. That’s the opposite of Dunaway’s calling the bond proposal to vote after springing the issue on the council just before the Labor Day weekend.
What will it take to get the council majority to buy into transparency and citizen participation?