Residents take county commissioners to task
January 14, 2011
At a session dedicated to learning about good governance and the open meeting law, members of the public opened with their own take on the topic.
“I hope you find it in yourselves to rise above your personal agendas,” Gardnerville resident Barbara Slade said Friday starting off the public comment section of the program.
Husband Jim Slade said the workshop’s purpose was ironic.
“That this meeting is about good governance and the open meeting law is too rich an irony,” he said.
On Jan. 3, Douglas County commissioners voted to replace planning commissioners Lawrence Howell, Rick Ross and Bob Conner with Don Miner, Jeremy Davidson and Frank Godecke. Howell challenged Commissioner Nancy McDermid for her seat during the Nov. 2 General Election.
Slade started calling on commissioners by name and criticizing Planning Commission appointee Don Miner when Commission Chairman Mike Olson interrupted him, saying he wouldn’t allow any personal attacks.
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“We’ve read the comments and the letters,” Olson said.
Slade pointed out that the commissioners were responsible for their actions and asked Assistant District Attorney Mike McCormick what the basis for stopping public comment was.
McCormick said that speakers during public comment cannot use profanity, cause a disruption or use inflammatory language.
Olson then permitted Slade to finish his comments.
Resident Heather Howell, wife to Lawrence, told commissioners they were there to represent all the voters, not just those who voted for them.
“I don’t think the public gets the impression that you’re listening,” she said. “You must represent not just the people who voted for you but the half of the community that didn’t.”
The workshop was the first time board members from the county commission and the three town boards have met in a single room.
Olson told the three town boards that he appreciated their participation in the workshop.
“We’ve never done this before and I appreciate the sacrifice everyone made to be here,” he said. “This is the first step in our working together with the town boards and the public.”
Also speaking at Friday’s meeting were Jack Van Dien, Stuart Posselt and Fish Spring resident Bev Anderson.