hydrangea blossoming

hydrangea blossoming
Hydrangea on the Edge of Blooming

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Commissioners Laugh!

Last night's Fire District meeting provided some narrow contrast to the high-tension string of meetings over the last six months in that there was some good-natured laughter among the Commissioners and their various employees.  Even jokes.  Perhaps a return to a more-nearly-normal status of human sociability.

On the other hand, some things remain the same.  In one agenda item, they discussed (you could say exhaustively, but since they didn't have much to say, maybe just exhaustively for them) whether the public comment period should be at the beginning of the meeting or at the end.  (Note that a few meetings back they voted to have it at the end; last night's agenda item was about moving it to the beginning.)  Mr. Meursing carefully solicited the opinion of every person there--except, of course, the six members of the public in attendance.  And no one who was asked really had any reason to put it in either place.  Of course, the real argument would be that if it is at the end, the public would be able to comment/query on the meeting they had just sat through.  But I suspect Mr. Meursing does not want to hear any such comments/queries.

And I say this because (at last night's meeting, comments were still placed at the end), when I asked to speak, I began with "I have a question and a comment."  At that point, Mr. Meursing interrupted me, saying, "Mrs. Ross, this is a comment period; no questions are permitted."  So, I was obliged to rephrase my question as a comment:  I offered the information that some people in the community might be wondering what had happened to the County Auditor's audit of the Fire District for the years 2011 and 2012 and its final report.  (Although I was not allowed to ask a question, the Financial Manager offered an answer: the information for the 2011 audit was submitted but the Fire District had not heard anything back yet.  A final report will be public information.)  And I commented that, since the Commissioners had spent some considerable time discussing what to do with an extra $60,000 that they had found available to them, perhaps they should reimburse the County Council for its generous gift of $50,000 to pay for former Chief Kiniski's paramedic training expenses. Dead silence followed that.

The pointlessness of the "Public Comment Period" was made clear when another member of the public suggested that the public would find it helpful if the District made a quarterly financial report available to the public that, after all, pays for the Fire District and its many expensive activities.  "Thank you," said Mr. Meursing, making it clear that the response to such comments would come some time after hell freezes over.

Other things happened, but you have to attend to see the whole show.  In any case, it was Another Fun Night with the Fire District Guys!

A Note:  My granddaughter, a college student currently taking a class on local politics/poli sci, asked me why I keep going to these meetings.  I thought about it. There is the bizarre story aspect of it, of course, but I found plenty to write about in this blog before I ever took an interest in the Fire District.  There is the fact that it is quintessentially Point Roberts in its tiny dictator patterns.  But that point has been amply made, I think.  More, it is simply the fact of bearing witness to what is being done in our names.  I object, and my only way of objecting is to go and to say what I see.  We are better than this, I have to believe.

And a second note: Chief Carleton appears to have taken over the running of the whole operation.  He seems to know what he is doing although (in my view) he has way too much money to spend freely as a result of the doubling of the levy a couple of years ago.  He may well be trying to turn this into a more terrific fire department than we need, but apparently we can afford it.

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