Information is the engine that drives democracy. Or is it? Recent behavior by certain Town Council members calls into question this principle.
The issue was whether to approve an ordinance requiring face coverings in Fountain Hills. The public spoke, and then it was time for certain council members to have their say. Councilman Tolis went first. “Freedom” and “support local businesses” were the themes. Some other council members had their say.
Then additional citizens asked to speak. The mayor reopened the public comment process. When they finished, the procedure was for council members to resume their discussion. As is custom, the mayor was to go last. She had a message from the Chamber of Commerce about a face-covering ordinance. She wanted to read it into the record.
Information seeking stopped. How? Councilman Tolis “called for a vote” on the face-covering ordinance. The Town attorney ruled – incorrectly, in my opinion – that the “call for a vote” took priority over the mayor’s right to speak or to present the Chamber of Commerce submission. Shamefully, five members voted to approve the “call.” All discussion ceased, the face-covering ordinance was voted on, and the Town Council meeting came to an end.
What did the Chamber of Commerce have to say? What was the Chamber’s view on how a face-covering resolution might affect Fountain Hills businesses? We don’t know.
Is this how town council meetings are conducted? One, or a few member(s), get to express their opinions then cut off others from doing the same? Of the five members who voted to end the discussion, how many claim they want to see businesses thrive in Fountain Hills? Didn’t they want to hear from the Chamber of Commerce on that issue? Apparently not.
Too much information, too much democracy, for some.