In what has become an all-to-common scene, reporters from local news media outlets set up cameras and solicited interviews at the most recent Charlestown City Council meeting. Prior to the meeting, a group of citizens held a short protest across the street from City Hall before moving inside and transitioning from vocal to silent protest.
What were they protesting? Pick any issue you’ve read about Charlestown in the news lately and you’ll be right. But the biggest complaint, the one that persists, is that the City performs its actions under a cloak of secrecy.
But the Mayor just doesn’t get it. When asked about the night’s protest, Mayor Hall told a reporter from WHAS,
“The group that’s here has protested everything we’ve done and the lack of transparency is always used if they don’t get their way.” – Mayor Bob Hall
But the Mayor is wrong.
He’s wrong because the group that protested isn’t the same as it was in 2014 when people living in Pleasant Ridge first began to question the Mayor’s plan for Charlestown in public formats. The group has grown. And so have the issues. Problems in Charlestown can no longer be considered relevant to a select few people in one neighborhood. This affects us all. If you have been reluctant to participate in such protests, it’s imperative that you begin to pay attention.
To dismiss complaints about a lack of transparency in government as nothing more than whining reduces us citizens to the status of spoiled toddlers. It is disrespectful and no way to respond to constituents.
Twice since 2015, the Mayor has seduced Council members away from their elected positions and replaced them with his own appointments. Are we ok with this? 40% of our council has abandoned the responsibilities they accepted upon election…not for major life changes…not for illness…not because they moved out of the area…but because the CITY created new positions for them.
In light of this and other such abuses, I present some information for your consideration.
First, I give you the City’s official Comprehensive Plan:
Where are we on these action items? How many are in the works? How many are complete? How many are delayed? Do YOU know? How many, like the plans for our water system, have changed? Because if you’re not sure, how is that transparent?
Second, I give you the Mayor’s official Facebook page on which he promised in early 2017 to keep us better informed on City plans (an action on which I originally applauded him). This site has not been updated since August 2017.
Finally, I give you the City’s original 2014 “Blight to Bright” campaign to address needs in Pleasant Ridge. If you need a refresher you can view the entire pamphlet here: Charlestown Blight to Bright
But please look at this item and remember that all homeowners, including those who have accepted the City’s offer to move to Springville Manor, were paid only $10,000 for their homes, regardless of the condition and “fair market value.”
Are we being lied to? Yes.
Is the process hidden? Yes.
Do we deserve better? Yes.
A complaint about lack of communication between elected officials and the people they represent should never be met with dismissal. If you live in Charlestown and you do not think that any of these issues affect you personally, please contact me via this blog form and I will explain why I think you should care.
Are we always going to agree on policy? Absolutely not! But open communication and clear processes are essential for the health of our community.
After all, “Government is a trust, and the officers of the government are trustees; and both the trust and the trustees are created for the benefit of the people.” – Henry Clay