The discussion was opened when a Staff Report was inserted into the agenda for the City Council meeting of May 19. In that Staff Report was a consideration to: "Omission of or revisions to term limits for Council Members of the City of Rowlett Determination of appropriate compensation for Council Members of the City of Rowlett."
Omission or revisions to term limits, and pay increases, are the only specifics mentioned in the Staff Report and then only once. There are no details. Furthermore, the City Council is laying out the scope of work. The Commission will discuss only that instructed to by the Council. A reasonably astute reader will zero in on the words "Omission" and "pay." It is reasonable to expect them to do so, particularly when they are apparently the only things mandated by Council.
So.......the hue and cry goes up.......understandably. Based on the Staff Report, the citizen knows that term limits might be deleted, pay would go up, and there is no information about whether sitting officials would benefit from any of it. For example, when does the term limits change? Does the new rules benefit a sitting councilman? These clearly would be normal questions, and you don't have to be real smart to know that.
After the noise level increased in Facebook, some new commentary began to come out. The old standby excuse for no term limits of "keeping experience" certainly came into the conversation early. Then a comment about only "one more" term of 3 years came into play. Then, a new reason about not being able to set on certain boards or committees became an issue. I have no idea where that came from. Apparently, this capability comes from long times on City Council and developing relationships outside Rowlett. I'm not sure I like that idea.
The problem is that none of this new information was on the Staff Report, yet the Staff Report is submitted "in the interest of transparency" so that citizens may remain informed on what "officialdom" is up to. How in the hell can the citizenry remain informed if information is denied or excluded??!! "Officialdom" can make the claim that a formal report was submitted. That statement would be accurate, however there was nothing of consequence in the report. It was gobblygook.
People, that's playing games. Clearly, there was a lot more information circulating that was "flushed out" by inquisitive minds on Facebook than was ever intended to be placed on the official Staff Report.
I have written about this communication problem before, and I have personally brought it to the attention of the city manager, a guy I respect. Brian seemed to accept my complaint.
I have watched our city leaders cry out in despair or frustration because of complaints by citizens that they don't know what's going on and they suspect "games" are being played by "officialdom." Usually there is "officialdom's" defense that staff sends hundreds of pages of Staff Reports into council meetings, information is posted on the city's website, mail outs are sent, blackboards are placed around the city, etc., etc., etc.
I've got a suggestion. Cut the fat and put some meat on the bones. Our citizens are smart enough to make intelligent decisions. Withholding information does not help the situation. One can't help but to begin to suspect elitism and an effort to keep the people "dumbed down."
Nothing can be done to satisfy everybody. There are always dissenters. Avoiding dissenters by withholding information from all the others is a bad plan.
The Staff Report had none of the information that was "flushed out" by Facebook. That is sad. .