Let Your Voice Be Heard! By Kenny Tompkins, Niagara Falls City Council

Let Your Voice Be Heard!

By Kenny Tompkins,

Niagara Falls City Council


KtompkinsmediapicWhat can I say about the February 22 council meeting other than “Wow!”?

The community turnout for this particular meeting was far and beyond anything I have previously witnessed. This even includes meetings I attended before I chose to run for Niagara Falls City Council. Several people spoke and spoke loudly on both agenda items and for good of the community.

As a member of the city council, I applaud each person who came to the podium. It takes courage to stand before the council and address your concerns. Yet on this night, we saw not only regular speakers but new faces who were willing to lend their voices to push for more government accountability.

The topics on which residents presented were varied, yet one common theme resonated throughout: the need for this city’s government to plan better when it comes to actions and spending. This was one of the main reasons I ran for office. I believe good government means doing your homework and having a reasonable plan in place before you spend money. This administration did not present viable plans for the spending requests they put forth. At this meeting, several speakers quickly addressed this, in particular with regard to the proposed parking meter purchase. Whether or not they were in favor of the meters, all of these individuals sent this message: “Do not allow this request to pass without a firm plan to make it profitable.” I am here to tell you, your voice made a difference. As a council majority, we voted against this measure due to the lack of a clear and tangible plan. I believe the presence of several residents helped solidify, if not influence, at least one vote against moving forward on the meter purchase until the detailed plan we have long requested is presented (and no, Mr. Ken Hamilton’s chicken cluck was not the influencing factor).

In addition to the parking meters, we heard from the community regarding the apparent lack of a management plan for the $44 million train station opening in May, the $500,000 golf course deficit, and the overall structural deficit of $7.5 million. There were also numerous concerns regarding the proposed mega methadone clinic slated to be located in the core of the tourism district. With these concerns came not complaints, but facts, figures, recommendations, and even solutions. By far, it was a genuinely fruitful session.

With this in mind, I encourage more residents to attend council meetings. Arrive 15 minutes before the 6 pm session and sign up to speak on an item that is important to you. You are allowed five minutes to present your case. Please remember to be civil and stick to topics that concern the entire city. No personal issues or attacks are allowed.

Even if you choose not to speak, your presence is welcome. Your support for those who are providing input to improve our city is noticed.

While my fellow council colleagues and I are there to listen, I believe that the mayor, the city administrator, and other department heads would benefit from staying for this part of the council session as well. They too should be able to hear what matters to residents and how people perceive the direction in which the city is headed.

The best part of living in the United States is the freedom we have to speak out either in favor of or against our government, be it local, state, or national. At the beginning of our working session, we heard from two LaSalle Preparatory School Junior Honor Society members, Jazzlin Douglas and Johannah Petrishin, who shared what freedom means to them. They spoke not only of what we are free to practice, but also of those who have given the ultimate sacrifice so that we have these rights.

Please, do not take your freedom for granted. Come to a council meeting and let your voice be heard. Who knows? You might just make a difference in influencing a decision and have a positive impact on our city, too.

The next council meeting is March 7. The first session begins at 5 pm.

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