Citizens For A Better Norwood

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Clerk of Council Mumper refuses Casey Brown’s letter re: S.B. 117

John Mumper and Joe Sanker say it “didn’t add anything” and ”nothing new”

Political silliness was on display at last night’s council meeting in our view. Casey Brown’s letter to council was deliberately not placed under Item N) Communications on the agenda prior to the meeting, a decision made by Brian Mumper who was obviously flexing the decision-making muscles given him by council rules to add letters or not to the agenda. Seeing that the Brown letter had been omitted, Councilperson Schneider quickly made a successful motion to add it to the agenda. When the vote came for the letter, a resolution opposing S.B.117 and a letter from Ted Kiser to be added to the agenda, John Mumper cast the only “no” vote, explaining minutes later that he “was not for reading the letter because it didn’t add anything.” Joe Sanker chimed in with, “we’ve been talking about this (S.B. 117) in Community Development…it’s nothing new.”

“Nothing new” to whom, pray tell? Perhaps Mr. Sanker needs reminding that because Community Development meetings aren’t televised and because their weekly 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday’s meeting schedule is inconvenient for the working public, almost no one got to hear him discuss how Senate Bill 117 can seriously damage public communications in our community. Regular council meetings are a perfect opportunity, often overlooked by some on council, to bring the public up-to-speed on important issues that are discussed in away-from-the-camera meetings.

And Ms. Brown’s letter did just that. As one city official remarked about the episode, “It did bring out some important aspects of S.B.117 that the general public was not aware of… I also feel that if a resident makes the effort to communicate in this manner they should be respected enough to put the letter on the agenda. I don't agree with the clerk having discretionary powers to leave items off of the agenda.”

It appears some of our council members inhabit a paternalistic world where there’s little need for the public to know because they themselves are in the know, or think they are. And taxpaying Norwood residents like Ms. Brown who also happen to be seeking reelection to public office needn’t expect their “residential” voices to be heard if they’re not a member of the political party currently in power. Or was the fact that Casey Brown’s husband Tom also wrote a letter to council, much criticized by the mayor and Mr. Sanker, about South Norwood problems two weeks ago just too much for them to bear? Whatever it was, we thought it was a tiresome stunt at best.

Now for the good news: a resolution opposing Senate Bill 117 was passed unanimously, and at Mr. Schneider’s insistence via a motion, Senator Eric Kearney’s name was added to the list of other state officials to whom it will be sent.