Tuesday, July 25, 2006

City Council Meeting, Or Monday Night At The Fights?

I used to go to the Saint Joseph, Missouri City Council meetings every Monday night. My work schedule changed so I can no longer attend the meetings.I wish I could have been there last night. An article in today's St. Joseph News-Press makes it sound like they could bring in some extra revenue by selling tickets to the meetings. Or maybe they could be televised, call the program "Monday Night At The Fights".

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(St. Joseph News-Press) 7/25/2006

Airing grievances puts goals on hold

Joe Blumberg
City Government Reporter

The St. Joseph City Council's goal-setting agenda had to wait Monday night as the more pressing issue was how to air grievances without wanting to throw punches.

The city council and the city manager delved into a serious and sometimes heated discussion of how they should operate, which many in the group ultimately considered a positive catharsis.

In one exchange, Francis Starr, husband of Councilwoman Joyce Starr, was escorted out of the meeting by Police Chief Chris Connally when he appeared ready to fight Mayor Ken Shearin.

During a long discussion about how council members should and could interact with city employees, Mr. Shearin accused City Manager Vince Capell of pitting Mrs. Starr and Councilwoman Donna Jean Boyer against him.

Mr. Starr repeatedly said "Whoa" and began laughing at Mr. Shearin's suggestion. Mr. Shearin then pointed his finger at Mr. Starr and said, "And you, too."

Mr. Starr was sitting directly behind his wife, next to the police chief, and about 10 feet from Mr. Shearin. He immediately rose to his feet and stepped toward Mr. Shearin, telling him not to talk to him that way.

Mr. Shearin remained seated, and Mr. Conally stepped between the two and led Mr. Starr out the door without incident. Mr. Connally later said he took action because of Mr. Starr's body language toward Mr. Shearin.

Monday's meeting at the St. Joseph Area Chamber of Commerce offices was the second meeting in a continuing goal-setting session.

Al Purcell, a consultant who led the session, said groups typically go through three phases: forming, storming and performing, with some reaching high performance. The council and city manager are clearly in the storming stage, Mr. Purcell said.

He also said Mr. Shearin's behavior in the incident was "unacceptable."

Mrs. Starr said the incident didn't do any irreversible harm. She said Mr. Shearin shouldn't have gotten upset at her husband because Mr. Starr was just like any other member of the public. But she also said Mr. Starr "needed to leave."

She said she's "getting used to Ken's temper and outbursts" and that she needs "to stay calm, be fair and speak up."

Mr. Shearin said the council discussed many more important issues that should overshadow the incident.

"It was an emotional thing. There were a lot of hard realities discussed," Mr. Shearin said.

Mr. Shearin and other council members said they had problems with Mr. Capell's public reaction to them discussing issues with mid-level city employees. Others, including Mr. Capell, had problems with Mr. Shearin not including them in policy discussions.

"We've so badly needed this conversation that if we need to have another meeting, so be it," said councilman Mike Hirter.

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I'm sure that some will feel a meeting like this was useless, not very constructive at all. But our last two mayors and city councils were known for passing city ordnances that many felt were far to intrusive. A few times they were even accused of using Gestapo like tactics. I don't think they will have time for that while they are having meetings like the one mentioned in the News-Press article. If these meetings will keep them out of our lives I'm all for them.

God Bless America, God Save The Republic.

3 Comments:

Blogger dusty said...

I lmao when I read this. But like you said..if it keeps them from passing laws that infringe upon individuals rights..it's a good thing.

10:52 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Sounds like an interesting meeting. In the town I live in (population 20,000), the city council (plus a few wealthy merchants) treat the city like their own personal fiefdom. At city council meetings, there's usually a huge audience full of frustrated fuming citizens, sitting there quietly while the Sultans pull one fast move after another to ram through their own personal agenda. And to make matters even worse, the town's only newspaper will not print any articles or letters-to-the-editor which are the least bit critical of the city government. Like the saying goes, "freedom of the press is limited to those who own one."

One of these weeks, we'll have a city council meeting that comes to a head like the one you described. And that's a good thing.

11:18 PM  
Blogger Katherine Thayer said...

I like to attend in this kind of meeting

10:29 PM  

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