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Time to take control

July 23, 2011
Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Like a bald-tire beater on a rainy road, Cape Coral council meetings are sliding out of control.

Staffers allowed to stand at the podium and speak with open disrespect as they dissemble in response to council queries with which they disagree.

Board members given unlimited time to wax eloquent in lengthy soliloquies sorely off subject.

Officials berating citizens by name from the dais.

The only time Mayor John Sullivan seems to wield the gavel is when a resident dares to rail against the machine.

Apparently the public - which one would think would be given the greatest latitude - is the only group which must adhere to any standard of decorum and stick to on-point discourse.

That's not just unfair, it's sloppy governance from the top down.

Council and the city's administration, which respectively have full control over acceptable peer and staff behavior, must set the proper tone and code of conduct for public meetings.

That starts with the mayor, whose primary duty by charter is to "... preside at all council meetings, be responsible for the orderly conduct of business ..."

We suggest that Mayor Sullivan do just that: Take control of the meetings, paying particular attention to those on the dais with a tendency to wander as well as those called to the podium whose positions are made possible courtesy of Cape taxpayers.

Council members to the man have a role here as well. Stay on subject. Please, please, please stay on subject. That means no lectures on topics far afield from the one at hand.

And also resist the urge to chastise citizens from the dais. As good as it may feel sometimes, it's unprofessional and it lowers the standard for everyone.

Which brings us to our final point.

Staff should never - NEVER - be allowed to speak with disrespect to any member of council. A quick gavel needs to halt this type of behavior in its tracks and council must stand united that the disparagement of one member is the disparagement of all.

We urge the mayor to apply some firm control to keep this car on the road.

And we urge those cruising along with him to give him a lot less reason to apply the brakes once he does.

- Breeze editorial



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