Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Cutting public involvement or common sense?

First act of Davenport aldermen does away with Monday, Thursday committee meetings -QCTimes

I'm sure many of you believe that this, and the proposal to not televise public comment, are all part of the usual vast conspiracy to screw Davenport. Personally, I'm in favor of making changes to cause Davenport city council meetings to not be difficult to watch, as I believe they are now. If you're addressing the council, why do you need to be on TV? Get on Channel 19 and tell the world your issues with the council, water fluoridation, or Native American burial lands. Save council meetings for doing the business of the city.

24 Comments:

At 1/08/2008 7:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Exactly!

 
At 1/08/2008 8:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Common sense. The Times already spun this to sound like its some kind of huge deal, when all it's doing is streamlining a highly inefficient system. Shutting down the cameras would have been great too, as it would have toned down the folks who just want to grand-stand.

I'm very happy to see the changes that were made. Hamerlinck and Ambrose need to realize that not EVERYTHING needs 50 public meetings and months worth of everyone's time wasted when it's a simple decision that needs made quickly. That's one reason the last council had so much trouble getting anywhere.

 
At 1/08/2008 10:14 AM, Blogger pioneer98 said...

I've been disappointed with the Times in a couple instances lately. Maybe controversy and conspiracy sells more newspapers.

 
At 1/08/2008 12:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It sells more papers, but I do give them credit for reasonable and fair headline. Usually it's the opposite problem with great articles and horrible headlines.

Anyway, this wouldn't have even made the 10th page in most newspapers, but the people around here love to make mountains out of mole-hills.

They're definitely taking advantage of our communities usual knee-jerk reaction to anything remotely related to the City. It sells, and then perpetuates the problem, but a lot of the public deserves a share of the blame too.

 
At 1/08/2008 12:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

QCI - I am disappointed in you. There are many people who address the council because it is the only way issues get addressed. Several wards had elected representation, but could get no action the past two years. I believe Davenport is a Democracy not a Dictatorship. A person is only allowed 5 minutes and should have a right to speak their peace on television. It is the people who elected the current mayor and council. These elected officials are also being paid with taxpayers dollars. Having the comments on television provides a medium for voter/taxpayers to observce what is concerning resident who may also have the same issue as the presenter. Shame on the people who are trying to be stars, but why punish the people with issues.

 
At 1/08/2008 2:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey 12:53 - Have you actually been to one of these meetings in person? It's often excruciating. I've watched complete nut jobs stand up and rant about totally obscure subjects that don't even partain to our state, let alone our City, just for the sake of being on TV.

Think I'm kidding? Go the Library and watch some of the old videos from people's 15 minutes of fame. Also, people go over their allotted time to soak in extra TV time too, which is a waste and slows down everything.

There is no conspiratorial under-handed attempt at quashing democracy here. In fact, it's totally the opposite.

I commend Gluba on on trying to streamline a process that needed fixing to IMPROVE moving our mini-democracy here in Davenport forward at a normal (not glacial) pace.

He's trying not to reward grand-standers with TV time, and it HAS been a real problem. Most council's don't have this. I'm happy with the meeting date fixes, but I'm glad he at least gave a shot at the TV time too. Off to a great start.

 
At 1/08/2008 4:20 PM, Blogger QuadCityImages said...

Its not like there aren't other mediums for these people. They can write letters to the editor, (Hint: The QCT publishes almost every single one) create a blog, or even *gasp* run for office themselves! In addition, of course, to bringing it up in front of the council.

But don't worry, your elected officials were afraid enough of this precise backlash that they couldn't do it, so we'll still have our televised grandstanding hour.

 
At 1/08/2008 5:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can you believe it, Ambrose made a comment on this story on the QCT website? HE GOT HIMSELF A COMPUTER!!!

 
At 1/08/2008 7:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it is not good that Gluba and the boys are already pulling this crap. This is a major disappointment to me and the community in general. I get really tired of people running for office who say anything to be elected and then go back on their word. If Gluba would have said that he was planning this move, he would not have been elected.

Davenport city hall is already poorly run by insiders, we don't need more secrets.

 
At 1/08/2008 7:55 PM, Blogger QuadCityImages said...

How is this causing "more secrecy?"

 
At 1/09/2008 9:56 AM, Anonymous Tory B said...

I'm not one to normally feel the urge to defend myself or my approach to stories. But I have to admit I'm at a huge loss at understaning how the way this story was reported could be considered one-sided.

The story has numerous quotes from aldermen about how they feel the public will be better able to attend meetings due to having a consistent time, it quotes Ald. Frink talking about the benefit of having a full week between COW and regular council meetings and it has Ald. Brown talking about the council taking responsibility for selling the change to the public.

Of course the story also includes the criticisms of the two aldermen who voted no, and the sentiment of those who actually made it to the meeting.

I really don't see how it could have been more balanced. Could someone give me some specifics detailing what was one-sided about the reporting?

I always welcome constructive criticism.

 
At 1/09/2008 10:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree completely, QCI. This isn't creating secrecy, and there are PLENTY of opportunities for people to get involved in the numerous meetings even prior to the council meeting.

I get the feeling a lot of people don't udnerstand the complex system of meetings we currently use that LEAD UP to the council meetings. What Gluba is doing is reducing the amount of pointless repeition of some of those by combining them in to one day's worth of consecutive meetings.

The anti "free speech" and pro "secrecy" claims are totally out of context, and flat wrong. This is a good idea, and won't hurt anyone at all.

 
At 1/09/2008 1:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree above poster. It is "stream lining" the process, and who cares if they put people on the t.v. or not.
I think the conspiracy people are bitter, especially since their biggest conspiracy theoist from the 3rd ward is no longer sitting in chambers. Well, maybe as a private citizen.

 
At 1/09/2008 4:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Tory,

I should clarify myself fromt the earlier use of the term "spin." You're article is actually very balanced, and really well done in just about ever journalistic aspect. You deserve more kudos there for sure.

The spin reference I made earlier was more in reference to the Times eagerness to "feed the beast" when it comes to QC people looking for the next possible big scandal. Often, it feels like our negativity as a community is bred from the medias coverage of how negative we like percieve about anything around here.

Part of the communites craze over even the silliest and small City matters is derived from even small stuff like this being covered so heavily. But again, we eat it up, so you really aren't to blame.

I understand that the due to the previous interest in it the last time the meetings nearly changed, it qualifies as newsworthy.

It just sucks that this is the first coverage the new council has really gotten, and it's aleady going to be percieved as controversial. As a news guy, you're pretty much required to write about it.

You're actually a billion times better than the previous writer who covered the City. Don't take it too harshly. If I could re-word that original post a bit to be more clear, I would.

 
At 1/10/2008 8:53 AM, Anonymous tory b said...

Thanks for the clarification.

And like I said, I wasn't bent out of shape, just a bit perplexed. I do appreciate constructive criticism, honestly.

Regarding the "feeding the beast" comment - that is pretty standard in municipal coverage. I try, when possible, to find stories outside of city hall, or at least taking a look at how an issue actually affects people - not just staff and elected officials. But it can be challenging.

Regarding the meeting structure story, as you pointed out, that was a pretty hot subject last spring. I suspect, however, that once everyone is used to the new structure, the "controversey" will be forgotten relatively quickly.

On the other hand, it IS Davenport, where controversey tends to linger and grudges are long!

: )

 
At 1/10/2008 5:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tory is right. At least QCT tries to diversify the coverage of news it publishes. They have even begun to buy some national stories from AP and such. Funny though is that the media businesses that are bitching the most are the ones that make city hall theatrics thier only central theme. Sure dragging out the meetings and endless debate and odd characters unbridled make for great entertainment and fill pages and sadly sell ads in "free" papers and radio time on local talk. But really in this news starved community what else is a saturated market to do but create news out of rumors and wild accusations. And what a great resource for free garbage than the old city council(s) and the old meeting structure.

And finally please, please get this straight. We have the right of free speech but no one is required by law to have to sit and listen to it.

 
At 1/10/2008 8:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tory B... Do you know which alderman has been using his elected position to get his friends out of trouble with the Davenport Police Department? Also, why is the police department allowing this to happen?

 
At 1/10/2008 10:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

8:13:

Why do you assume it's true?

 
At 1/11/2008 9:31 AM, Anonymous Tory B said...

"Tory B... Do you know which alderman has been using his elected position to get his friends out of trouble with the Davenport Police Department? Also, why is the police department allowing this to happen?"

I haven't heard any rumblings about that. If there is documented proof of it, or even multiple soures to confirm it, we would certainly do a story.

 
At 1/11/2008 10:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I for one think that moving the meetings to Wednesday at 5:30 is the best thing the Mayor and Alderman could have done for the citizens of Davenport.
Most working people can't take time off work to attend those afternoon, committee, and committee of whole meetings. This makes the process much more open to the public.
As far as the grandstanding. I think that there is alot more grandstanding done by aldermen than citizens.
Sure there are some citizens that take advantage of the process by venting an opinion on every subject and often just talking silly. However it gives the public an opportunity to see a different view point, and usually people who are speaking have an important point to make.
A couple of aldermen, one expecially, spend a great deal of time giving speeches about everything discussion item. Maybe maturity will help that problem.

 
At 1/11/2008 11:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

8:13 and Tory:

The alegation of an alderman using influence to get friends out of trouble with the police comes from Meyer's blog.

Who knows what runs through the imaginative, befudled mind of Keith. If he has proof, he needs to put it out there. If it is speculation and put out to stir the pot, that is irresponsible and unethical.

 
At 1/15/2008 11:27 AM, Blogger Snarky Chick said...

My first reaction to this was - do they not care about what the public wants? I mean, I think people made it clear last year they want to keep meetings how they are. Then I tried to think why it was people wanted the meetings how they were. The reasons given, to allow public comment, to allow the public to stay informed just don't jive to me. If anything, the new meeting structure will allow more public comment (after working hours) and more people to know what is going on (easy to follow schedule).

Sometimes people here are just afraid of change. I remember when going through a company reorg one time they had to give classes on how to deal with change. I thought, how bizarre, life is change, how do people not just learn to embrace it? But there are quite a few people here who, in spite of their contant complaining about how things are run, will never approve of change.

Now, if only they *could* do something about those who monopolize the meetings because they think it makes them important without taking away the rights of the rest of the city. The best option may be for someone to take those few people aside and let them know they are really abusing the purpose of public comment by telling us what they've planted in their garden or repeating the water fluoridation speech in monotone every week.

In spite of the public opposition, I think this new meeting schedule is for the better. And even better than that, I think the new council really has an interesting dynamic, with differing viewpoints that can work together. I don't see the new council as propagating a conspiracy and I do think they each have our best interests at heart. Now maybe with new leadership, the "ready, shoot, aim" mentality will be gone and we will see some well thought out, necessary change take place. With dignity and justice for all.

 
At 1/15/2008 5:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay Snarky - well said and true. However, I do not think we will see from this group the detailed action that needs to happen especially when it comes to cleaning up the inner city and crime. Unfortunately, the left overs from the last council are ineffective and the newbies are too ignorant to when occurs down here and clueless on what to do about it. I am scared for our neighborhoods SOLO. Really concerned. It makes me sad.

 
At 1/15/2008 6:34 PM, Blogger QuadCityImages said...

As far as what "the public" wants in regards to council meetings, I don't know if any of us have a clue.

We know that online commenters and people who attend council meetings seem opposed to these changes. That's a pretty small group, When we're trying to bring in MORE participation, the people who are already there aren't really the best ones to ask. Hopefully this new schedule allows us to see some new faces at meetings.

 

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