Letter | Tony Campbell: Disappointment with City Council

On Jan. 9 the Kingman City Council held a work session meeting to discuss policy and goal setting to direct the city manager regarding preparation of the Fiscal Year 2018-2019 Budget and ratification of the Transaction Privilege Tax (TPT) rate. During this meeting Jim Bacon, interim city manager, and Tina Moline, finance director, shared a three-hour presentation on the financial situation of the City of Kingman. There was a lot of valuable, well-prepared information that was disseminated to the council and the few members of the public that were in attendance.

We, the public, were encouraged to attend and be a part of the process, but were also immediately told that “public comment is not provided for on the agenda and may be made only as approved by consensus of the Council.” During the meeting, not one time did Council ask for any input from the public, and several times even referenced some of us in the audience as if we weren’t there and wondering about our positions or intentions, but never once asking for it.

I have been involved, and at odds, with the decision and direction of Councils in the past (most publicly when the last sales tax increase was implemented and, through negotiations, had a sunset provision attached) but during work sessions on those items, even the particular Council members I disagreed with the most engaged me and others in the audience with our thoughts and concerns. That was how government is designed to work, with input from the public, not in spite of it.

At one point in the discussion, Councilwoman Vickie Kress suggested we hold a town hall type meeting to allow for public input on the issue. Vice Mayor Jen Miles (starting at 4:36:40 in the video if you care to watch) says that her mind is made up, and she states that “if I thought that this meeting would provide new information that would change positions … that would be a positive” and then goes on to say, “but … does that change the nature of what the Council is dedicated to doing? I don’t know that it does …” Then she seems to insinuate with a hand gesture that it would not change her mind, regardless of what is said. This clearly shows she has no intention of hearing any further comments on the community’s desire for the direction of our city, and her mind is made up.

There was discussion about making the meeting at 3 p.m. Jan. 16, immediately before the general council meeting and during the week. I suspect this, again, was to limit the availability of the public to attend, but that effort was thwarted by Councilman David Wayt and others. Some really don’t want public input.

The next clear display of certain Council members’ intentions comes about at 4:29:30 when Councilman Travis Lingenfelter says that he “is all for a workshop.” While this sounds positive, his choice of a workshop means, again, no public comment provided for. Lingenfelter then goes on at 4:40:10 to indicate he has no intention of changing his position, regardless of public comments or desires.

I would encourage anyone with an extra four hours to look up the meeting video on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9AF9Ms4Hic8&feature=player_embedded), and see for yourself what your elected Council thinks of the public’s opinion.

Boy, who would’ve ever thought I would long for the days of having Erin Cochran and Janet Watson on Council for some possibility of public input, but here I am.

I encourage you to contact your Council and let them know your feelings on the how the City of Kingman develops in the future, who pays for it and how. I don’t expect everyone to agree, but at least we should have a voice more than every four years when the Council is elected, since several on this Council have already flipped positions from their campaign ideas.

Get involved … as long as it is silently from the bleachers, right Council?