Open Government

We have a fairly good discussion going about a citizen's ejection from a City Commission meeting for exceeding the 3 minute time limit for public comments.

Larry Kralj, a man I disagree with often, put up a rather lengthy post about the whole affair. My experience as an attorney tells me that in a situation like this, the truth is usually somewhere in the middle. I don't know if what Larry writes is the "truth," or if the City's eventual version will be "truth."

What I do know is that the whole thing is very unseemly. We have a citizen being forcibly removed for the 'offense' of offering her opinion for a time period exceeding an arbitrary 3 minute limit. Her substantive position on the issue, while perhaps not correct, is at least a legitimate point of view. There was actually a physical altercation. How could anyone involved feel anything but embarrassed by this?

I remain concerned, too, that the willingness to remove her might have been content based. In other words, if she had been praising City Government, would the powers in charge have been so quick to have her removed?


Anonymous said...

Gee guy, as I said, everything is on tape. Tapes don't lie. But here's another thing about the three minute rule. That particular night, there were a grand total of THREE people who wanted to speak to the council. Just three! So, let's do the math. Three times three minutes. Hmmm. Mayordonna would have had to indulge her citizenry for a period of about NINE FREAKIN' MINUTES! I guess that's asking too much of mayordonna. So, I suggest that people have to sign up to speak. That way, if someone is particularly on a roll and needs more time, why couldn't another speaker grant their time to them? There are all KINDS of ways to handle this. Having thugs assualt a innocent speaker with a simple nod of the head from mayordonna is NOT the best way to run a democracy. I appreciate the opportunity to participate in this discussion.


Anonymous said...

Closed doors, non-existent files, alleged non-available-confidential records, and professionally incestuous relationships.....

So what's changed in ten years?

Evidently the political & economic gene pool needs to be expanded before city officials turn residents into taxed-Haemophiliacs.

Anonymous said...

2007 Election Information

Last date to file for Mayor & Commission: June 28, 2007

Prior to running for office, a nomination form must be completed.">Prior to running for office, a nomination form must be completed.

Anonymous said...

For my next magic trick...the corrected code for the link

GeeGuy said...

Anon, if you're suggesting that we who criticize run for office, I think that such an approach is fallacious as an attempt to silence critics.

Run or be quiet?

On the other hand, if you're merely suggesting that we get some new blood in there, I agree.

Anonymous said...

Gee guy, I coudn't have said it better. Must we ALL run for office in order to have a fully functioning democracy? Why can't we simply hold those IN office accountable, and insist that they do their jobs? Allowing public participation IS part of THEIR jobs. Listening to public testimony IS part of their jobs. It seems to me that SINCE they supposedly work for us, THEY are the ones who should leave voluntarily if they don't want to do their jobs. We shouldn't ALL have to run for office in order to make democracy work. I'm sure that if Lawton, Stebbins, and the police don't WANT to hear all that negative stuff, they could leave. I know that they are all real sensitive types who can't handle a little constructive criticism. I'm sure that we could conduct a meeting quite well WITHOUT them. Now THAT would be democracy! (guess we'd all have to spit their salary too!)

Anonymous said...

I used to come to this site to read well reasoned criticism of our city government. Now, though, you seem to pull punches on almost everything (except the coal thing).

Are you afraid to criticize the Mayor? Are you afraid to criticize the commission. It seems like everyone but Lawton gets a pass.

Mayor Stebbins came to office on a promise of change and she has failed to live up to her promise. She used to be the "people's mayor." Remember all the time she spent commenting on the blogs? It was all about access.

Now its nothing. She put up some lame post at GreaterFalls about Alex Percic, but she hides on all the issues.

And you don't say shit to her or about her? Don't any of the local bloggers have any guts any more? Your about as bad as the Tribune.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 3 replies....

Yes... I am merely suggesting that we get some new blood in there.

Apparently, independent auditors of financial and legal records are needed.

Anonymous said...

Above are some interesting comments regarding the Mayor/Susan Overfelt debacle. I have made the acquaintance of both women. Although I don't know them well, they both are intelligent, strong-willed and surprisingly alike. It is my opinion, they both knew EXACTLY what they were doing. It was an unfortunate situation. It could have been avoided. I'm not a supporter of the present Mayor (get ready for a bumpy ride), but Susan needs to bear some of the guilt in this drama.

I beg forgiveness if these questions have already been addressed, but I pose them to you anyway:

Were there any comments made explaining about the 3 minute rule from the Mayor and/or any City Council-person, before the three speakers stood up? If not, why not?

At any point, did Susan O. ask for additional time? If not, why not?

What part of "Your time is up." did Susan not understand?

Has the Mayor EVER allowed a citizen additional time to speak even when their comments might be in opposition to the Mayor's thinking? If not, why not?

Why are the police not in uniform at the city council meetings?

Contrary to Mr. Larry Kralj comments, I definitely think the police should be in attendance at the city council meeting. Come on, they are NOT thugs." Times have changed, like it or not. Yes, even in Great Falls, MT. I welcome the law enforcement officers at any goverment meeting.

Thank you.

Mary Jolley said...

If Mayor Donna had conducted the meeting the way Acting Mayor Sandy does in her absence, there would have been no arrest. The way the meetings are to be held is - there is a time for public comment BEFORE every vote. Mayor Donnatrix did not allow the public to speak before the vote on the Consent Agenda. This is where they voted on the extension of the Shelter contract. There is no time limit in that part of the meetings.

The other Commissioners should be speaking about the Mayor's actions. They all know that the friends of the Mayor want to run the shelter as it was a topic of discussion at their Agenda Meeting the Wednesday before the Tuesday Comission Meeting. I feel sorry for the police. But "just following orders" is no excuse. Who will arrest the Mayor when she refuses to allow for public comment in the alloted time when the 3 minute rule does not apply?

GeeGuy said...

I am curious about something. Who are these "friends of the Mayor?" Are people suggesting that Dona Stebbins is trying to create a situation whereby people who are not presently city employees will become city employees working at the animal shelter? What evidence exists that this is true?

Anonymous said...

Wow - hot discussion.

Someone said "Allowing public participation IS part of THEIR jobs. Listening to public testimony IS part of their jobs."

But the problem seems to be THEY aren't doing THEIR jobs in spite of public outrage. THEY seem to be digging in and holding ground regardless of public outcry.

Willing THEM to do THEIR jobs is not working. Mary Jolley plainly states,"The other Commissioners should be speaking about the Mayor's actions."

It appears the commissioners are willing to support or afraid to speak against the Mayor.

So IF THEY are a closed combination of power, then what?

IF THEY continue to use threat of force, police force, against citizens, then what?

How can citizen's check and balance THEIR power if THEY own the police?