Thursday, January 17, 2008

Who was the staff member?

Circuit Judge Elsa Lamelas ripped the city a new one for its amazingly bad performance in considering neighborhood concerns over plans for a big parking structure on Downer Ave.

Lamelas found that a Historic Preservation Commission subcommittee met in secret, likely a violation of the open meetings law, and that a city staffer ensured that meeting minutes did not reflect everything discussed.

Lamelas ordered the Common Council's Zoning, Neighborhoods and Development Committee to meet to hear citizen comments on the project, and said that the committee should make a public confession of the error of its ways. The JS story, though did not list any ZND sins at all, but laid all of them at the feet of the Historic Preservation Commission, which is not a part of ZND.

If the issue was misconduct by the Historic Preservation Commission, then the Department of City Development should be the one confessing. The commission is, after all, staffed by DCD. Certainly the commission should have been better advised by staff -- again, this would be DCD -- about its obligations under the open meetings law.

ZND is not blameless in this matter -- I remember this issue coming before the committee only because residents testifying were treated so very rudely -- but bad manners are not against the law. Secret meetings may well be.

The two are vastly different degrees of public service sin.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Gretchen,

The ZND commitee is indeed blameless. Th members of the committe had no fewer than 3 public hearings on this matter and listened to hours of testimony. On one occasion, the 4th time, there was no requirement for us to hear public testimony.

The judge found no fault in the action of the ZND Committee, The Council or any of its members.

Mike