Coun­cil should lis­ten, then talk

The Fresno Bee (Sunday) - - Opinion -

Let’s get Fresno be­yond gov­ern­ment by press con­fer­ence, as most re­cently seen in “Fresno Mayor Lee Brand pulls gas tax spend­ing plan due to ‘par­ti­san dis­agree­ment’” (April 2, The Bee), and go­ing back at least to Mea­sure P, where du­el­ing pro­pos­als and mul­ti­ple press con­fer­ences re­sulted in noth­ing ac­com­plished and a whole lot of yard signs to re­cy­cle.

Public de­bate and cre­ative com­pro­mise are nec­es­sary to good gov­ern­ment, but we have a ve­hi­cle for this de­bate that is open to ev­ery­one: city coun­cil meet­ings. It’s not de­bate, and it cer­tainly isn’t com­pro­mise, when you stand in front of cam­eras and beat your chest — it’s grand­stand­ing!

Coun­cil mem­bers should at least wait un­til pro­pos­als ar­rive of­fi­cially in cham­bers be­fore fall­ing on them like a pack of hye­nas. Then they can do the hard work of speak­ing to col­leagues who may dis­agree with them face to face and the harder work of lis­ten­ing. As it is, all sides have so en­trenched them­selves into po­si­tions by the time dis­cus­sion opens that they have no room to move should they…gasp…learn some­thing in de­bate and change their per­spec­tive.

– Wayne St­ef­fen, Fresno

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