The last City Council meeting was scary for anyone concerned about open and transparent government in Port Orange–scary not for what was said but for what was not said.
Among the items brought before Council for their approval were two studies for the Public Utilities Department that totaled close to $1 million! They were listed under the “Consent Agenda,” meaning they were destined for approval with no discussion, no presentation by staff, no nothing. Had it not been for citizens in the audience asking that they be pulled from the Consent Agenda and discussed in an open forum a million dollars would have been spent with a bobble of the heads. As it turned out both items were tabled until a workshop can be held on their necessity. One poor fool in a red shirt asked how they could vote on this stuff when the agenda packet did not even include the info necessary to know what they were voting on–see video clip below.
The answer, of course, is that Captain Jake had already prepped the Council members with what he wanted them to know well in advance of the vote. The public was placed on a need to know basis and they apparently needed to know very little. When it turned out that Council didn’t know, either, what they were voting on, the motion to table the items allowed everyone to save face.
Ken Parker was a master at orchestrating votes like these and Manager Johansson obviously shares the same management style. He has already removed the manager’s read file from public view and now wants to revert to selling his agenda to Council behind closed doors. It’s certainly an easier task for the Councilmen to just trust the manager to make the right decisions rather than have to educate and inform themselves on all the issues–but that can blow up in their faces when the manager screws up.
Maybe we should just elect a City Manager and give him a rubber stamp?