Written by Andrew Speer ~ Polson
A REVIEW OF POLSON RESOLUTION #1006 – ADOPTING EXPECTATIONS TO CREATE AN ENVIRONMENT CONDUCTIVE TO THE CIVIL CONDUCT OF THE PUBLIC’S BUSINESS IN POLSON CITY COMMISSION MEETINGS
First a bit of history: This resolution was adopted on January 20, 2010. Former city manager Todd Crossett brought this idea forward after the city commission met on a “leadership retreat” of sorts. When asked why a quorum was held where discussion and decisions were made without public knowledge, city manager Crossett answered that “the leadership retreat had been outside of a public context to create a non-confrontation [al] environment.”
The main gist of the resolution is (Section 1. a, b, c):
- We focus on issues and not on people, and we do not tolerate abusive communication.
- We seek and encourage diverse points of view, and listen to learn and to understand.
- We seek creative solutions.
These statements are vague and open to individual interpretation and confusion. One member of the community asked what was meant by “abusive communication.” Crossett answered that “abusive communication, verbal or non-verbal, would cause appropriate action to be taken. The person would still be welcome at the public meeting, but they would be asked to refrain.” In other words, he expressed intent to take “appropriate action” but did not clarify the meaning.
For the last several months, Resolution #1006 has been posted at the bottom of each Polson City meeting agenda. Sounds nice, but the Mayor and Commissioners do not appear to believe it themselves. Motions are pre-written and simply read by one of the commissioners. Confusion is often seen when a citizen approaches the podium and gives reasons of fact suggesting they not approve the agenda item. Yet, approval votes are almost always unanimous.
One gentleman, with knowledge of Polson Develop Code, recently made the point that procedure for a new project did not follow the necessary steps. The project was paving a parking area that is now graveled. Before completing his points he was told to his time was up due to the 3 minute rule. Is the Polson Commission truly interested in learning and understanding proper procedure, or just moving the special interest pet projects along? Often, a well prepared statement cannot be made in the 3 minutes allotted.
Most commissioners focus on the 3 minute count-down clock hanging on the wall as opposed to looking and listening to a speaker giving a “point of view” or a “creative solution.” The suggestions or opinions are generally not well received. When a proponent to a project makes an inaccurate statement, the opposition cannot rebut the information. No dialog takes place and although questions are asked, the elected officials will not answer. If opposition to a project is put forward, opponents are often labeled as hateful, negative, confrontational or a “naysayer.”
Do opponents have ideas and creative solutions to make Polson a better, thriving place? You bet, but real, open, and honest conversations must take place. There are excellent ideas and solutions by the public to improve the city of Polson but City Government doesn’t have the interest or the time (beyond 3 minutes) to hear them and have that real discussion. Many appear to have their own agenda for their personal interests and pet projects using the hard earned and limited amount of taxpayer money. Freedom of speech and redressing your government is one of the last of the freedoms that government is trying to restrict.