Should city control oversight committee?

To the Editor:

I’m still shaking my head over the Daily Independent editorials following the recent dispute over the role of the Measure L Citizens Oversight Committee. I don’t know which is more disturbing; the fact that Mayor Dan Clark seems to be oblivious to the citizen objections to his baffling plan to cut them out of the process (and this from a man who ran on a platform of transparency), or a newspaper that continually comes to his defense and skews the facts in order to shield him from scrutiny.

The DI staff made their bias clear when they announced support for Clark as the mayor before candidates were allowed to file for the seat. All through the campaign they took every opportunity to promote him writing about how he would set a positive tone for the city. (Half a page devoted to the announcement that he started a website?)

So let’s look at that “positive” tone: after only two months in office, Clark has managed to inflame the public with his announcements that he wants his own office, wants to evict planning commissioners from committee meetings, wants to change to a charter form of city government (the primary advantage of which, by the way, is to more easily increase taxes), wants to dictate the role of his own Oversight Committee and reminds the members of that committee they serve at the council’s pleasure.

Then, of course, there is the little problem of his drafting direction on behalf of the council. When the public questions the ethics — not to mention the legality — of this misguided action, instead of examining Clark’s conduct, the DI calls the public to task for questioning him. How does this fulfill the newspaper’s duty as the watchdog of government?

The public turned out in droves at the last council meeting to voice their objection to Clark’s attempt to interfere with the proceedings of the Oversight Committee.

Professionals from every point of the political spectrum — many of whom had never before attended or spoken out at a city meeting — showed up to protest. Clark responds by saying he does not understand why people are so distrusting. The Daily Independent accuses them of being the same as the critics in the trash debate (the very first speaker said this was her first time addressing the council) and demeans their comments as being “half-truths and slippery-slope arguments” without evidence to the contrary.

I guess we should be thankful for the recent light you have shown on your true motives – that you are not interested in shining a light on the actions of our public officials, but in stamping out the voices of those who would dare hold them accountable.

Dennis McKeen

Story First Published: 2013-02-06