Transparency ordinance obscured

Councilmember Jim Allen took his stand and amended several items last minute to the Whitewater City Common Council Meeting – calling the transparency ordinance into question.

            Allen added six items less than 24 hours to the meeting. He had several items that he felt weren’t emergencies, but there was prior notice beforehand for these items to be added.

            “I had indicated on three different occasions with the clerk that I wanted these items added. They’re not an emergency, but because they weren’t added and I kept getting refused – then I became a little bit agitated, and that’s why I insisted they be on tonight’s agenda,” Allen said.

            All of them items he requested to be discussed were passed.

            One item he was most agitated about was their need of equipment from Spectrum so that the city of Whitewater could be broadcasted/streamed live in order for other customers in different cities to view it. It’s been about six months – and there is still no delivery or response from the company.

            Allen’s proposal for this grievance is a form letter to send to state representative and put pressure on the Spectrum company. The motion passed unanimously.

            Some of the other items he added on included and update on code enforcements for Neighborhood Service Officers as well as their lack of training. NSO’s are responsible for performing inspections on all property within the city.

            Allen requested that this item be brought forward because of concern from citizens for at least the past two years. He also addressed the lack of training for the NSO’s. While not asking for any motion as this time, he wanted the concern to be made aware for all citizens.

            He also discussed the matter of the Youth Build Program. Instead of having the possibility of students being removed from Whitewater’s school district into Elkhorn, he suggested that there be a similar program within the city. He stated that they should not be helping the city of Elkhorn take their own students. He said they have an obligation to keep it in their city, and Elkhorn can find another way to get land for their program.

            Transparency Ordinance

The transparency ordinance was created in order to be able to have agenda notices be posted seventy-two hours in advance. If an item was added after that seventy-two-hour mark, it requires an affirmative vote of the majority of members.

            Concern had been expressed about the number of agendas that had been amended. The agenda for this most recent meeting had been amended three times.

As Allen brought up in the beginning of the meeting, the transparency ordinance seemed to be violated more often then followed. He urged his fellow members to be steadfast when it came to such violations and unless there is an emergency – to reject them when brought forth to future meetings.

City Manager Cameron Clapper stated as well that the items that weren’t originally added to agenda were never outright refused – they were simply going in a different direction rather than be brought up to the council straightaway.

“They were never refused – it was simply requesting that they be delayed until the staff had opportunity to evaluate next steps,” Clapper said.

            Also on Tuesday:

  • The council heard from Public Works Director Brad Marquardt from the wastewater treatment plant about a roof replacement for the plant. Marquardt stated that they only received two proposals from contractors. They received a proposal from Pioneer Roofing and FJA Christiansen. However, since it wasn’t based on public building, it was recommended that they do that instead of immediately going in the direction of taking on a roofing company. The original recommendation was then withdrawn and will instead go through the public bidding process.
  • LS Power plant asked the city to waive the provision to provide them with a decommission cost analysis and an appraisal of the entire building. It costs approximately $25,000. They are asking to waive that in favor of a pending sale for about $72 million. Overall, the council made the decision to approve the motion.