Letters to the Editor

Letter to the Editor: City council must hear the voices of the people

Posted on December 18th, 2023 By: Edward Nadler

Why is our city council seeking to silence the voice of the people?

Time and again our elected officials have stated the desire to hear from the public, to listen to our concerns. It’s even stated in the Gig Harbor Strategic plan: “Increase city communication effectiveness” and “Listen to community needs and expectations.”  Yet time and again council has moved to limit the voice of the citizens of Gig Harbor.

Council voted 6-1 in favor of Resolution 1266.  Prior to this Resolution all written comments submitted to council on any particular topic would be included in the online packet for an upcoming council meeting and would be forwarded to the mayor and councilmembers for their review.  These written comments would, at the request of the commenter, also be read aloud during the meeting.  While this later proviso was somewhat time consuming and cumbersome and removing that particular requirement may be sensible, no longer including the written comments in the agenda packet does not increase communication effectiveness.  To be sure, anyone can make a public records request for any such comments and at some unknown future date you may receive some of those submittals.  This hardly encourages public dialogue.

In October of 2023 Council adopted a Climate Action Plan.  Under the auspices of that plan, administration staff suggested, and council adopted making certain meetings remote only, that is, not in person.  While some of these meetings may have minimal public interaction or may outright ban public interaction (and yet even during study sessions public comment has been allowed), this hardly leads to effective city communication (especially when technology fails) or to the council listening to the community.

Lastly, and most unfortunate, throughout Washington individuals have been abusing the right to free speech by disrupting public meetings with hate speech and comments unassociated with any topic being discussed.  While other municipalities, which have actually suffered these attacks, have opted to remove these individuals from the meeting, the Gig Harbor City Council has opted to HALT all “audio comment” and only allow in person and written comment to be made during council meetings, with few legally required exceptions.  Of course, written comments are no longer readily available to the general public.  Hardly an example of increasing communication effectiveness and listening to the community needs and expectations.

 The city has a policy regarding Public Comment & Decorum, it’s shown on every agenda.  There is no need for further consideration, let’s simply enforce the policy and allow the public their right to be heard.

If council is intent on making changes, perhaps council will return all written comments to the official agenda packet, without the requirement for written comments to be read into the record.

Edward Nadler

Gig Harbor

Gig Harbor Now accepts signed letters to the editor of up to about 800 words. Submit them on the Contact form by selecting “Letter to the Editor” from the Purpose dropdown.