By Bill Oakey – May 7, 2014
Nobody ever said that fighting City Hall was easy. I just happen to be bold and / or crazy enough to try. The victories are few, but very sweet.
This time I’m asking for a little help – from a rocket scientist.
Here’s the deal. One of my proposed reforms has languished for nearly 30 years. Everybody should get one proud notch on his belt in a lifetime. So, here’s how I’d like to earn mine.
Win a reform of the City Council agenda process, so that citizens don’t have to wait six hours to speak at public hearings.
I lost that battle in 1987. But I stood my ground and fought valiantly, sitting in the Council chambers waiting hours for my turn to speak on the proposal. The Metro section headline in the next morning’s paper read, “Agenda Reform Proponent Kept Waiting.”
And I’m still waiting, nearly 30 years later.
So, I’m ready to call in a rocket scientist for help. Perhaps she could measure the trajectory of each weary citizen as they navigate the voyage to and from the City Hall restrooms. Or, she could track the velocity of the motorized wheelchairs that disabled citizens move about during their extended stays into the wee morning hours.
Maybe she could even stand beside me and help propel me to my proudest City Hall victory of a lifetime. It would indeed be a sweet victory. Not really for me, but for the next generation of City Hall visitors who want to participate in making Austin the best place to live.
Last summer I arrived, signed in ready to speak on two issues. Only to learn the hard way (believe it’s called experience) about the Mayor & City Council being notorious for juggling items, hearing them out of order. I wondered if the items of importance to me would every be heard .. finally. And, if we happen to sign up to speak on both issues, we were not allowed to speak on them individually, we had to speak on both at the same time but only with time allotted for one.
So yes, I can appreciate the hours-on-end wait. I did get to speak, but only because I refused to leave.
Making people wait until late in the day to speak on items is mainly Leffingwell’s forte.
BTW, Budget Work Session starting tomorrow 9:30am.