Last night was the first meeting of the year for the Weiser City Council. The meeting was sparsely attended, with approximately 12 residents who were not participants in the meeting.
The meeting was the last for long serving Council Member Dan Randleman and the first for new Council Member Sterling Blackwell. With Randleman’s departure, Layna Hafer was elected the new council president.
Dan Randleman had served on the council for more than 30 years. I didn’t always agree with him or like his position or vote, but I do feel that that his departure was lackluster. There was a brief acknowledgment of his time on the council, a brief standing ovation and then Mr. Randleman took a seat in the gallery and shortly thereafter left the meeting.
I wonder, is this how the other council members view their positions? Do they put their time in at the meetings then are done for the month? How are we as citizens to know what other duties our council members are active in? The council members are assigned to committees, but how much time is spent working on these committees? At each meeting, committee reports are brought up, but there are rarely if ever any reports which leaves one thinking that there is no activity. At the very least each council member should be asked about their respective committee and have them report on that committee even it is to say nothing happened this month.
Another thing that is not on the agenda of the monthly council meetings is public comment or questions. I understand that an open forum can get out of hand and sometimes heated but sitting in the gallery having unanswered questions can leave citizens feeling shut out of the process. At the very least there should be time allotted for written questions and council member response.
As it is now, from the meetings I have attended, whether true or not, I see a city council that spends an average of one hour a month in their elected duties. Why do I see it that way? Because based on what I see as a citizen, that is all the time they appear to be putting into the job. I would welcome the City Council to change my mind by being more transparent and accountable to the citizens of Weiser.
Our city council members are paid $400 a month, have health insurance benefits and after serving five years are vested in the state retirement system. If they are only participating in the monthly meeting, which I hope is not the case, that is quite the compensation package. If they are doing more, which I hope they are, there needs to be accountability of their time to the taxpayers to justify the compensation.
Newly elected Council President Hafer has a unique opportunity. She can shine as an example of accountability and implement more transparency and reporting to the citizens of Weiser or she can keep things status quo and the citizens of Weiser in the dark.
Christina Marie Stanley