The Nfld News has a story today titled Mayor: Disrespectfulness unacceptable based on comments Mayor Mary Rossing made to the Northfield City Council at Tuesday’s meeting. The text of her written statement:
On a number of occasions during my tenure as Mayor I have felt the need to address the Council publicly, and to remind my colleagues that in order to be be effective in our jobs it is important that we maintain a level of protocol and respect in our deliberations. This is expressed in how we speak to each other, to the public or to our City Staff. In recent weeks I have personally observed, and have had it pointed out to me by various members of our community that it appears that it has become acceptable for staff to be discredited and put down in public.
That is not right and it should not be acceptable in these Chambers. That is not to say that we must agree with staff opinions or with their recommendations or that we cannot question the basis for such opinions. But when they speak from their position as professionals, they must be respected.
Councilors Kris Vohs and Rhonda Pownell are quoted in the article as also being unhappy with the tenor at times at meetings and elsewhere. No word from the others:
Councilors Betsey Buckheit and Suzie Nakasian declined to comment for this story. Councilors Patrick Ganey and Erica Zweifel could not be reached for comment.
Since I’m someone often accused of having a bug up his ass about the importance of civility in conversations, I’m interested in this issue. But neither the article nor Rossing’s statement mention any specifics, so it’s hard to know what’s going on. Sometimes when people are critical of others, that’s seen as automatic disrespect, whereas I believe that public criticism can be done in a way that’s respectful.
Back in March, Councilor Kris Vohs was unhappy with the interactions among the Councilors. I was critical of how he handled it but there were never any examples mentioned of what he was talking about. In May of 2010, Mayor Rossing was also critical of council decorum.
Can anyone who’s been at Council meetings lately or who has watched the proceedings via cable TV or live streaming cite some interactions that might be examples of disrespect towards city staff by councilors?