One of the many issues discussed Wednesday evening was waiving about $26,300 in permit fees for the county courthouse. When Commissioner Jablonski recommended waiving the assessment, a lively discussion enused. (We’ll do an “in their own words piece” below.)
Too give you a little perspective, Commissoner Givens, once he heard the recommendation, observed that the board needed to discuss the matter so everyone knew the essential information in order to make an informed decision. “You [Jablonski] come tonight and make a two minute overture about it, and we’re going to make a motion,” he said. “We just can’t make a rash decision.”
Commissioner Givens has made similar points previously about the need for sharing information, as well as the critical nature of fact-based decisions. We couldn’t agree more. How is a board of five going to make reasoned decisions without having the same set of esential facts on a topic, he has queried previously.
One only has to look at the confusion related to Elk Landing to see the value proposition in Mr. Givens’ statement. As we’ve listened to proposals to sell part of Elk Landing’s property, we’ve constantly been amazed at how little data based insight the entire board had on the subject. All the elected officials, one would assume, are privy to all the insider discussions that take place behind closed door town meetings (as is appropriate on a land issue), the information on the subject coming from a couple of quasi-town organizations, the negotations between a developer and an architect, and so on. That is not the case on the Landing and we assume it must apply to other major decisions.
Take what was promised Elk Landing in order to get that Foundation to agree to give up its right to the land, as an example. Two of the officials, Commissioner Jablonski and Mayor Fisona, cited significantly different promises, when asked about that. One said the Foundation was promised nothing; the other said $150,000, along with some other things. Dealing with the rumors we’ve heard around town, it was something else entirely. When they came to other meetings on the public open space land, it was shocking to hear them say I wish we had the information on this or that. We have audio that we may post later, an in their own words piece, to better illustrate the point we’re making. The property topic was on the agenda so it shouldn’t have been a surprise for the town board. Why wouldn’t you have all the information needed to make an important decision about public land. Of course, the status of the RMR property shouldn’t have been a surprise either.
When the vote was called on waiving the fee, it was two against with three in favor. Commissioners Givens and Storke voted against it.
Commissioners, please don’t “make rash decision” on any topic. Gather the facts, share the information ahead of time, discuss it in a deliberative way at your meetings, and then, and only then, make informed decisions. It’s simply a good approach to business.