Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Outcry That Wasn't

Tonight's City Council meeting was definitely not the shot heard 'round the world! The chamber was packed. SRO! Standing room only. Many in the audience were there for the Woodstock Christian Life Services proposal to expand, while demolishing Grace Hall as part of the grand plan.

Others, and not a few, were there about the 200 block of Fremont man-with-a-gun call and the police response. Chief Lowen was there, and quite a number of Woodstock police officers in casual clothing. I suspect they were all there to hear the residents' clamor over how the call was handled.

And who spoke? Two residents. Two. Only two. Shocking! Perhaps they were intimidated by being in the presence of the City Council. Or were they pre-empted by Mayor Sager, who made a lengthy preamble to the Public Comment portion of the meeting.

Here's what should have happened. When the Public Comment period was opened, Mayor Sager should have stopped speaking. Instead, he spoke about how "saddened" he was by the increase in criminal and inappropriate activity. And how residents have an expectation of safety and security. And how intensive the dialogue has been between the Police Department and the school district.

Ho-hum. I guess it would have been pretty rude and unprofessional to stand up and say, "For crying out loud, let's hear from the Public." But I'll say it right here. At future City Council meetings, let the public comment!

After all the public comments have been made, then, and only then, should the Mayor and members of the City Council speak. Suck it up, guys (and ladies). Have the guts to take it, when it's dished out.

Had Mayor Sager not stolen the thunder of those who showed up to speak their minds, perhaps they would have braved the path to the microphone, introduced themselves, and spoken their pieces. By making such lengthy, sweeping comments Mayor Sager took the wind out of the sails of those who came tonight, not to hear what he had to say, but to tell him and the Council what they had to say.

One who did speak is the father of children at Dean St. School. Containing his anger pretty well, he questioned the lack of decisive leadership on the Fremont Street call. He told the Council that he thought they were unaware of the problems near the center of the City. I think he meant the neighborhoods around the center of the downtown area, not only "the" downtown area. "Rental properties are the breeding grounds for trouble," he said. He urged the City Council and Mayor to get more involved with people.

A second speaker complained that the city administration and the police department were not forthcoming about crime issues. And she asked for better communication from the Police Department. She wants action, not just "feeling bad", referring to the Mayor's earlier words. She commented that a beat officer had told a neighbor that no gun was involved in the crime in the 200 block of Fremont.

I wished I had been able to write quickly enough to jot down word-for-word the Mayor's response. It was to the tune of "If that's true, then..." What did he mean - "if that's true"? She had just told him what she had heard!

I heard a couple of days ago that two residents were told that "nothing had happened" on Fremont Street. In other words, there was no man with a gun. Well, one resident calling the police to report a man with a gun crouched down by her back door (no, he wasn't out in the backyard (away from the house) by a woodpile] is good enough for me.

I believe her, and every cop there and every cop in the police department should have believed her.

If the cops think such a report is "funny", let's just hope that something similar does not happen to their wives!

I'll be interested in learning why no others there tonight spoke up. If you are reading this and you were there and didn't speak up, why didn't you?


Kyle S. said...

What gets me most about this "man with a gun" case is that when some one finds writting on a school toilet room wall that the least bit sounds threatening, everyone freaks out; They shut down the schools, they hold counseling sessions, they send out press releases and letters to parents, and it gets written about on blog sites. But when a "man with a gun" is sighted only BLOCKS from a school; The WPD does NOTHING.

I feel the greater harm to our community is having a police chief that does not even live in the community is charged with protecting. That tells me that to him, this is just a job. Maybe WE need to consider hiring a new Chief, one that has more of a connection/relationship to the people of this community than just a "paycheck". Then maybe a new Detective or two.

Not My Advocate said...

Did you comment Gus? Where is your outrage? Where is your indignation?

As I heard it, the woman did not say that she was told by an officer, but was relating something second-hand; that is called hearsay and is always up for questions of validity. Then again, I am unsure as that is hearsay.

Also, why do you make assumptions about the intent of the audience? You cannot state that the mayor's comments actually stopped people from talking or intimidated them. You have no valid reason for making that kind of guess.

If someone wronged me and I approached them and they said, "I know why you are here. I would like to start my saying I am very sorry. Now I invite you to let me know how you feel." Maybe I am mature enough to not berate my friend at this point.

Once again you have shown your true colors and agenda.