December 7, 2023, St George City Council meeting offered the "limited edition" public comment.
Since 2014, the St. George City Council has provided an opening public input session. Public input serves as an avenue for residents to voice questions, concerns, and grievances to the Council, with these interactions being documented in the public record. This record is a valuable point of reference for the public and officials. It's important to note that this public comment opportunity is distinct from the public comments related to various agenda items or proposed government actions, which are legally mandated before the Council makes decisions; that aspect remains unchanged. The Mayor discontinued the opening public input on May 4, 2023. "Temporary measures". You can see that meeting here (around the 13 minute mark): https://www.youtube.com/live/5Azb2feKSQA?feature=shared
The timing of the decision to cancel the opening public input portion was notable, coinciding with the approaching City Council elections. This strategic move of stifling opposition could potentially benefit certain candidates. Only one City Council member, Michelle Tanner, voiced dissent against the cancellation of public input. The decision faced significant resistance, leading to substantial pushback from the community. Interestingly, there was a notable moment during this backlash where individuals from traditionally opposing factions found common ground, uniting against the decision. Two months later, the Mayor decided to reinstate the comments; however, in a limited capacity, you can read the statement here: https://npr.brightspotcdn.com/1e/da/08d20d084f12adb315453108a5d8/public-input-statement-final-5-23-23.pdf
Rule number 5 in the published statement, "undue applause," is enforced inconsistently. In instances where a resident makes a statement that resonates with the entire room, leading to applause, attendees are promptly scolded with warnings such as "NO CLAPPING," and there are instances with threats of removal. In response, attendees have adapted by resorting to a silent applause approach, using hand waves.
However, a notable inconsistency exists, as there appears to be a double standard regarding applause. While residents are restricted in expressing themselves through applause, there seems to be an exception for anything the Mayor says, allowing for applause at any time with no repercussions. This apparent disparity in how the rule is applied fosters an environment where expressions of support for the Mayor are permitted. At the same time, dissenting voices are suppressed, contributing to a perceived lack of fairness in handling public engagement during these meetings.
During the meeting on December 7, one of the input comments came from a resident named Jeff. He shared his perspective, highlighting the common experience of individuals who relocated from another state, like himself. Jeff articulated that many residents left their former states due to decisions made by representatives that had negative consequences for the citizens such as loss of freedoms. A key point raised by Jeff was the issue of affordability, which he connected to increasing taxes in their former states.
His commentary aimed to draw attention to the potential parallels between the experiences of those who moved to St George and their concerns about the direction of local decision-making.
The decisions made in states that experienced failure, prompting residents to leave, had a significant impact. These choices changed the quality of life that residents once cherished and turned those areas into something unrecognizable. There is a noticeable similarity in the trajectory of our local leaders, suggesting that they might be making decisions that could lead to comparable negative consequences for our community.
Jeff's commentary underscores that the decisions leading to negative consequences in their previous states weren't swift; instead, they accumulated over years or even decades. The gradual nature of these decisions contributed to increased taxes and the redefinition of the city to a point where residents felt compelled to make a fresh start elsewhere. The situation had deteriorated to such an extent that residents felt moving was their only viable option. Jeff's plea to the City Council was a call to reflect on the potential long-term implications of decisions, urging them to consider the future trajectory of St. George. He expressed a desire for proactive decision-making to prevent the city from following the path of those failed cities that residents had previously fled.
As residents, how should we respond? Do we passively observe events unfolding? Should we consider relocating to a new city and starting afresh? Won't these decisions ultimately lead to the same repetitive outcomes? We must break this cycle. We must persist in addressing the issues, actively calling attention to them, and holding our representatives accountable.
While painful to witness, "you have to see it if you're going to do anything about it." SS.
We must hold the line. Thank you, Patriot Jeff, for speaking up.
Here is the link to Council meeting from December 7, 2023
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