Silenced once again
Deerfield residents and property owners filled the City Council Chambers on 9/11/2018 in order to protest the city’s proposal for a tax assessment against all property owners in the Deerfield Subdivision. The tax assessment proposal outlined by the city administrator came as a result of entertaining an extension of Luther Road south of Morningside Road to provide access to the proposed Morningside Pointe subdivision.
However, property owners were denied an opportunity to speak to the issue at this meeting since the mayor announced during the study session that the issue was being pulled from the agenda. This decision was said to be due to a last-minute request of the developer as a result of private discussions held with the city.
This request to pull the agenda item came without advance public, ward representative or council notice, thereby taking any public comment off the table. This effectively denied the public the opportunity to even weigh in on discussions that were held between the developer and the city before the issue was pulled. Since a room full of citizens were present, it seems only fair that the public and full council would have been allowed to hear the developer’s rationale for pulling the issue. Certainly the Deerfield residents’ comments on the action should have allowed since they took valuable time out of their personal lives to attend the meeting with the intent to speak.
Given that no detailed explanation was given for pulling the item from the agenda, one can only speculate that the issue and tax proposal had not been fully vetted or it had encountered some sort of undisclosed noticing issue, or other procedural or legal problems. Speculation would not be required if the developer, and the city’s administration, staff and legal counsel were being fully transparent about why the issue was pulled. The mere fact that council would not be voting on the matter should not have prevented the public’s opportunity comment since so many were present at the meeting.
Transparency in government is a valued attribute, but unfortunately it doesn’t always occur.