Here’s a response to the Puyallup Herald’s editorial on term limits. The editorial’s text is left in normal font, the dramatic reading comments are bolded, italicized and in quotes.
Editorial: Six pm Start Time serves most good for the most people
Puyallup City Council’s recent decision to maintain its 6 p.m. start time for council meetings will benefit the greater number of citizens, despite the arguments of some very vocal city residents.
“Ahhh, okay. Let’s see what the argument is for the 6 pm start time.”
At the Tuesday, May 17, meeting, council members received another slap on the hand from public commenters, who all unanimously spoke in favor of moving the start time to 7 p.m.
“Yes, again the council was told how the citizens felt. But, yet again, the majority of the Council voted against the will of the people who elected them.”
So, the question before council is this: Does an hour really make a difference?
“Yes it does. That is why citizens have repeatedly stood up at council meetings and spoke out against it. It makes getting to these meetings much more difficult.”
To Councilmembers Tami Brouillet, Nicole Martineau and Kent Boyle and Mayor Kathy Turner, the buck stops at 6 p.m.
“As it always does. Selfishly they voted for 6 p.m. “
But for Councilmembers John Knutsen and Rick Hansen — who both voted against the 6 p.m. start time — council is going against the voice of the people.
“Thank you John Knutsen and Rick Hansen! True representatives of the people! What a novel concept, representatives of the people actually representing the people.”
“There has to be a cry from the public that they want it changed (to 6 p.m.) and there wasn’t.”
“And there has not been any. The outcry from the public has been the exact opposite of 6 p.m.”
Many residents who have spoken against the 6 p.m. start time — and Knutsen and Hansen will agree — argue that Turner, Boyle, Martineau and Brouillet are voting in favor of their own interests and that of city staff.
“This vote wasn’t about 6 p.m. vs. 7 p.m. This vote was about who has more power. This was specifically about exacting some type of revenge on citizens who continually expose and embarrass them for their wrongdoings.”
Residents think staff shouldn’t count in this matter because they get paid salary and it’s their job to be there.
“As was stated at the meeting, when staff applys for their jobs it is very clear that after-hours meetings are part of the deal. They might not like it, we wouldn’t, but they are well aware of this the whole time.”
Residents also discount high school students who attend and other youth groups like Boy Scouts of America. But Turner and those for the 6 p.m. start time argue the earlier start time allows these youngsters to complete homework assignments and get to bed on time.
“Homework can be done before the meeting. Most students do not attend the entire meeting, leaving after an hour or so.”
Staff, they argue, also must wake up very early to arrive to work and a late night council meeting would not be good.
“As already stated, it’s part of the job. The part that sucks.”
But students who come do matter. Their well-being needs to be considered. And an hour difference makes all the difference for the person who attends the meeting and has to wake up early the next morning to commute to work.
“The meetings were at 7 p.m. since the history of time. No one ever complained. Not once. The council decided to change this time on your own.”
Would one rather want to lose an hour of sleep, instead of gaining an hour, just so they could get their three minutes in the limelight.
“Well, if you listen to the citizens, then, yes, I guess they would.”
Residents will complain that they can’t make it to the meeting on time for public comment but sometimes a direct and articulate letter to a councilmember will suffice.
“Sometimes council members do not respond to emails. Sometimes citizens have information to share with the public and a council meeting is a great place to do that.”
Councilmembers and city staff are no different than residents who make a point of attending the meetings.
“True. But, both knew when they signed up for the job that meetings were at 7 p.m. Citizens didn’t know the council was going to change this.”
Councilmembers and city staff, just like residents of Puyallup, have lives outside the confines of council chambers. They, too, have wives, husbands and significant others at home. They, too, want to be home at a decent time to get enough sleep, so they can function the next working day.
And despite all the words spoken about how 15 people were late to a meeting, it can’t be denied that council meeting attendance has remained consistently high. In some cases, council chambers has exceeded capacity.
“It’s mostly the same citizens, every meeting. If the chambers are full, it’s for a proclamation and presentation then they leave.”
Ultimately, any policy decision by council must at all times serve the most good for the most people.
“And, this one definitely doesn’t.”
And on this issue, council got it right.