Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Oro Valley Resident Seeks Greater Scrutiny of Decisions

In June, Oro Valley resident Bill Adler spoke to the Oro Valley town council about their responsibility to hear, in public, recommendations made by Oro Valley's boards and commissions. Adler's concern at that time, was that the the council did not allow public comment on a planning and zoning recommendation that was on the consent agenda.

We asked Bill if he had spoken to the Mayor on this. Prior to the meeting, Adler asked Hiremath if there was going to be public hearing on this item. Hiremath shook his head, NO. "Where does it end, Bill?" he asked, implying that in his judgment some questions do not deserve extended debate publicly. In other words, in his judgment the matter was either "routine" or "obvious", and public comment wouldn't affect the outcome.

Adler believes that our elected officials should not prejudge the need for public input. They should seek it as part of the process of vetting a decision.

We asked Mayor Hiremath his thoughts on the matter. He did not reply.

Council Candidate Shirl Lamonna expressed her ideas to us on how she plans to seek and consider citizen input regarding the decisions that she will make as a council member.

"Our form of government is a "representative democracy" - with "representative" being the key word. Therefore, our elected officials have a responsibility to thoroughly research all agenda items and closely consider Advisory Boards' recommendations in order to make informed decisions."

Lamonna continued: "Having an open discussion of issues brought before Council by our Advisory Boards could foster new thought processes amongst council members and stimulate additional ideas, including revisions and conditions for approval. This practice would better guide Advisory Boards in providing the appropriate information to the Council to support their recommendations on future matters.

But most importantly - and perhaps why it is not routinely practiced - is that this process would allow Oro Valley residents to assess whether their elected officials are indeed representing them. Are they faithful to voter approved principles in the General Plan? Ordinances in the Town Code? Have they considered the legal ramifications of their decision?

I am a firm believer in transparency in government and when elected, I will research, ask questions and weigh in on the issues so that Boards and residents are informed of my reasoning. We may not always agree, but I will not abdicate my responsibilities in this process."

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