Wednesday, February 6, 2013
See, Hear, and Speak of Evil
Speech to Grants Pass City Council, 10/19/2011
In the October 11th Daily Courier, there appeared an article about an argument in a City Council workshop, in which our City Manager, Laurel Samson took Councilor Richard Michelon to task for taking her to task in an e-mail exchange, apparently sent to some members of the public. She said that it “is bad for the city. She said it damages Grants Pass in the public's eye and that the public sometimes doesn't differentiate between the council and the staff.”
We couldn’t tell exactly what the problem was that Michelon was pointing out, just that it had something to do with our problematic SDC formula. “‘The insult in my view is you allowing staff to repeat it to council it as if it were true,’ Michelon wrote.” We couldn’t tell what that untruth was. The Courier would not be so impolite as to speak evil of city staff, or repeat any evil that others say about them.
Throughout this article, the same attitude in our City Manager came through loud and clear. She appears to subscribe to the “wisdom” of the three monkeys: “See no evil; hear no evil; speak no evil,” at least when it comes to City staff.
This explains why the City administration has responded so little to my campaign to enforce our nuisance laws. If our Manager refuses to see the evil of litter on the ground, or hear evil about non-enforcement of our laws against it, then she will not speak of that evil to our Public Safety Chief.
These laws are on the books; City staff needs no authority from you to enforce them fully. And yet, the police do not do so, perhaps because it seems so impolite to speak of that evil and tell people to clean up their properties while the problem is easy to clean up. It is not nice or easy to be public nags, but it is necessary. Avoiding that duty allows the evil of weeds and litter to flourish, encouraging greater crime as well as directly causing fires and other safety hazards.
No town is perfect, and this is a problem all over the West. Police have found, in places like New York and Cincinnati, that if you enforce against nuisances, greater crimes don’t tend to happen. If nothing else, it creates a cleaner town that reflects well on its residents and government and attracts employers. But our City Manager refuses to see, hear, or speak of the evil of litter and weeds. Please tell her to do so, at least to police.