By David Anderson
Lakewood’s Landmarks and Heritage Advisory Board is under investigation.
As are apparently all other volunteer advisory boards in the city.
Former City Councilmember Walter Neary, currently serving on the Lakewood Landmarks and Heritage Advisory Board, references a select subcommittee of city councilmembers as covertly investigating “the city’s advisory boards” because they “have some problems.”
But that is not atypical of Lakewood’s modus operandi, a council of which Neary was once a member.
On August 23, 2010 Neary wrote in his blog, with regards the Camp Murray Gate issue, “everyone knows you can trust Lakewood to advocate for its citizens.” And, in anticipation of Camp Murray’s filing of an official proposal to change their gate location, Neary wrote “assuming they do, the city will react on behalf of its citizens.”
Camp Murray did apply for its permit. The City Council did not advocate for its people.
The transportation advisory board in fact never ever even had this most grievous transportation nightmare on their transportation agenda.
The Planning Advisory Board (PAB) is another example of how pretentious is the exercise of citizen engagement when the citizens themselves are in reality treated as subservient customers instead of the employers that more truthfully they are of council and especially of city staff.
Or, as Neary wrote: “There is something missing in this whole process: the citizens who authorized and pay for this government.”
When the Lakewood City Council – of which Neary was a member – delegated responsibility to the PAB ostensibly to study the impact of gambling; and that committee’s two-year study did not include a discussion of the social consequences of convenience casinos; and the council accepts the committee’s homework as comprehensive and complete; and for lack of a second on a motion to send the issue to the voters the council bypassed any council discussion, avoiding position statements by council members; and this in turn subverted the people’s right to know how their elected representatives in public discussion stood on the issue and vote accordingly – is it any wonder that Lakewood residents were left to the initiative process; and that Neary is now discovering – being on the receiving end – what we knew then?
“I would invite the city council members and city attorney’s office to be open and transparent about their thinking,” Neary now says.
This is now, but what about then?
And is it any wonder that we then and Neary now, “feel ambushed, if not betrayed”?
County Manager David Smith of Maricopa County, Arizona wrote “Trust in government is one of those things that take 15 years to build up and 15 minutes to undermine.”
Now in its 17th year of city-hood we are seeing yet again evidence why – as the article quoting Smith on the Municipal Research Services Center website was entitled – “In Government We Don’t Trust.”
As one pundit said, ‘I don’t mind politics, it’s the people I can’t stand;’ likewise Neary’s statement – “So while this activity began with a noble goal, the execution left out a crucial ingredient: the people.”
And, of course that truism is as the one Neary also wrote, “Being chosen as a city attorney or elected to the City Council does not guarantee infallibility or genius.”
You got that right.
“If you believe that citizen involvement is important, you might want to educate any members of the City Council that you know,” Neary wrote.
Tell me about it.