Council meeting “walk on” resolutions come in several sizes and shapes

The Reporter was pleased to see freshman council member Ezra Scott decline to support Mayor Dyster’s attempt to walk on a surprise resolution at the recent council meeting. The resolution aimed to tap the city till for up to $75,000 to support the hosting of a meeting of the Great Lakes Council Initiative. The mayor sits on the board of that organization.

We give high marks to Mr. Scott in recognition of his reluctance to spend taxpayer cash on short notice with insufficient information. That being said we can assure the councilman that this won’t be the last time he’s presented with late or deficient resolutions and requests for expenditures.

The Reporter has been watching this shameful game of late  resolutions and last minute cash grabs at the biweekly council meetings for years. The Dyster administration has raised this misleading legislative technique to an art form.

We’ve identified and named the three most common walk on ploys. They’re explained below and we encourage Mr. Scott to be on the lookout for them.

The basic “We couldn’t get our act together on time so we had to walk it on late.” More often than not this walk on results from a bureaucratic screwup or simple laziness of staff. This happens more than it should but is never identified as such.

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Ezra Scott balked at mayor’s recent council walk on.

Usually this walk on gambit is justified with the cover story of “staff was working really, really hard on this and the lateness couldn’t be avoided.”

The always nefarious “Look over there not over here as we walk this controversial item on in the hope that no one notices.” This is the bread and butter move by confabulating city hall denizens as they present an item as an unavoidable “walk on” when the reality is that it’s been prepared days if not weeks earlier. By keeping it off the agenda and presenting it as a walk on it skirts any previous scrutiny. Historically these items are the result of a charade orchestrated by the mayor and the council chairman, if not the council majority.

This third scheme, known as the “We had the actual subject item on the agenda all along, we’re just presenting the supporting documentation late” is incredibly crafty and is only used for matters of supreme non transparency…such as the Hamister Hotel project. In November 2013 official approval of the Hamister contract was on the agenda. However the contract wasn’t presented publicly until it was walked on at the council meeting. Yes, it occurred that way. A contract of hundreds of pages with more clauses than a Santa convention was – as mayor and corporation counsel offered the document with straight faces – dropped in front of the council for approval. The council ok’d the document and the rest is history…no hotel, 27 months later.

Councilman Scott saw his first “walk on” resolution two weeks ago. But it won’t be his last. If he keeps his eyes open while relying on common sense blended with a healthy dose of skepticism he should do just fine.

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