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Addressing the tension

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013 9:57 a.m. CST

First of all, I would like to thank you for your continued support in the past election. I look forward to serving you another four years as your councilman. I have always tried to do what I feel was in the best interest of the citizens of Osceola. I believe Osceola is a great place to live and I am truly happy to call Osceola my home. I will continue to fight and do what I feel is best for the community.

My opinion is, we are lacking good leadership right now, and feel we are just spending money and spinning our wheels. It has been stated by a fellow council member that I don’t want things to change for this community. That is simply not true. I want to see this community survive more than anyone.

I simply want us to take care of what we have now, before we move forward with more. I do not like how we have a small group of staff running our town. Instead of hiring more staff, we need to teach the staff we have to become more efficient. We need to do better with our parks and maintaining streets. We need to concentrate on the new sewer plant being built and paid for. We need to look for savings through being more efficient and try to slow these rate increases. Because of these reasons, I’m not favored among city staff.

I feel we need to be open and honest with the public, after all, that is who we work for. After reading an article in the Osceola Sentinel-Tribune, I feel it’s necessary for me to let the public know what really led up to the tensions escalating at the Nov. 19 council meeting.

In a letter dated Nov. 8, 2013, I received from the city administrator, it states: “Council wards — with the low overall voter turnout, several of you have independently inquired of me about reviewing the representation structure of the council. Rather than the three wards, two at-large seats, the question has been raised about changing all five seats to at-large. I was surprised to learn when looking into the issues that a change can be done by simply amending the ordinance. It would not require a ballot issue because we are not technically changing the form of government; we’d still be mayor-council.”

Not knowing anything about why our administrator was looking into this, I called three other council members on Nov. 8 and asked each of them if they asked the administrator to look into changing the wards to all at-large. The answer from each of them was no. This only leaves one other council member left, so I’m not sure what council members the administrator was referring to in his letter that asked him to look into this.

Since this letter, our administrator has found out he can’t do this change without a valid petition from the people and special election. Now, he is looking into keeping the three ward, two at-large system, but changing the voting so everybody could vote for each ward.

This research by our administrator was brought up after our current council member in Ward 2 was defeated in the last election. I feel they are wanting to make this change in our council representation so they could continue to stack the council with their friends. The voters spoke at the last election and voted to elect who they wanted representing them.

This frustrates me because I feel our administrator should not be spending time looking into these issues without the council directing him to do so. At bare minimum, the full council should be aware before he does, and we should be discussing these issues at an open meeting with the public involvement.

I tried to address this by asking our city administrator questions at the Nov. 19, 2013, council meeting. I simply asked him who asked him to look into changing our current structure. Instead of making him answer the question, I was cut off an called out of order by our mayor, and I was told after the meeting that I was only one council member, and to not forget it.

Seems to me, bringing up the issue of changing the council structure wasn’t something they wanted to discuss in an open public meeting. Hopefully, in January, when our new council member starts, I will have some help correcting our broken system.

The next day after the meeting, I was called by another council member and was told they would like things placed on the agenda that I would like to talk about, instead of asking questions in my report at the end of the meeting.

I feel this is an attempt to know what I’m going to ask ahead of time, so they will have time to come up with an answer. I feel like I’m doing what’s right, and will continue to fight.

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