Citizens Speak About City Communications

Passionate speeches were given by a number of city residents about how the City Council makes new laws. They spoke about communication and retaining the system the city currently has now.

The public hearings about how laws are made was the most time consuming portion of the meeting. There were many other important topics that were also discussed during the meeting.

New Laws & City Communications

The proposed ordinance has been updated to include an opportunity for the public to comment on proposed ordinances as part of the public meetings. The addition does not specify any more details than that. 

One commenter said “…I believe government that can make fast decisions without allowing and encouraging maximum citizen engagement gives any government too much power, the power should rest with the people. I think government should deliberately run slow…”

Cindy Ashworth shared her concern about the new law and speed of making decisions as a “red flag.”

Former Council Member Joe Polowski spoke about the importance of deliberating as part of the ordinance process. He made a number of suggestions, first that any waivers of the process are a part of the agenda, second the ordinance and waiver should be subject to public comment.

Council Member Stapp, during Council Member reports, outlined a counter proposal that he has developed for the three reading process. Stapp said “I am currently very unwilling to vote for the complete removal of the three reading process, so I would prefer to strengthen that with a compromise, or I would actually prefer to keep it the same length. But, I am willing to compromise and encourage you guys to vote for a two reading process with some of these strengthening measures.”

Stapps proposal would:

  1. Change three readings to a two reading process.
  2. Includes more methods of communication.

 

City Attorney Chuck Zimmerman urged the council not to create a reading process that would restrict the law making process. He said “We want the decision of the City of Deer Park to rise and fall on the substance of the decision, not how they were made. It’s what decision was made.”

The proposed ordinance includes a “Failure to Follow Procedure” clause. This blanket clause would allow any future city council the ability to completely ignore the procedures required by this law. The section immediately after contains a more standard severability clause.

Reducing Business Park Assessments

Improvements to Cedar Road by the airport were projected to cost over 6 million dollars. The actual cost was much lower at 4.5 million dollars. The council agreed to reduce the assessment charged to the property owners that are part of the Local Improvement District (LID). 

Zoning Change At Storage Solutions

There was a public hearing regarding changing the zoning from business park to diversified commercial. There was no input from the public. The council is scheduled to vote at the next meeting on February 2nd.

Report Of Council Members

Council Member Helen “Dee” Cragun 

Cragun stated at this meeting “I heard this last week that its been said that I don’t want to take or listen to public comment. There is nothing any further from the truth. Number one I am always available, 24/7, all you have to do is get my phone number from city hall. I will not post it on Facebook. Just call city hall, and they will give it to ya, I am open ears because I’m your representative. I speak for you, so you have to speak to me, to get me the right information. Ok, its a two way street. But I am open.”

At the previous meeting Cragun had said “When I first started I got on the phone, called a 100, at least 100 residents to get their opinion. After about 20 they started hanging up on me. So I figured, ok, I’ll go down to the store, I still do that today. I talk to people about and listen, they know me, I get their input. But, one or two people, you can’t make decisions on their opinion. Even 50 people. Because when you are speaking for the majority and we have to look at what is best for the majority. And that you can learn from studying and talking to the professionals. We have access to Municipal Research, AWC, and several other entities out there that we can contact if we have serious questions. So that’s how I get my information.”

You can hear her comments on YouTube at https://youtu.be/4fJX__8fcFw?t=1845

Council Member Jason Upchurch

Upchurch commented regarding the three reading ordinance that “…I like the idea of streamlining things…” he also stated he likes that the ordinance “…gives an additional notice, an additional  week more than what we have right now…” He also expressed that the city needs to do more to communicate through texting and other methods. He also stated that he would like to compromise with a two reading process.

Council Member Caleb Stapp

Besides presenting his counter proposal for the reading process, Stapp also introduced a proposal to allow chickens on residential property. Currently chickens are permitted in the City of Spokane but not in Deer Park. Stapp wrote a letter to the Editor which can be read at DPGazette.com/upz7w

Council Member Ron Scholz

Scholz thanked the Deer Park Kiwanis for hosting WinterFest this year. 

You can watch a video of the entire meeting below or on our YouTube channel at: DPGazette.com/youtube

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