Open Forum: Ignored
Posted: February 11, 2013
Teddy Roosevelt said the “first requisite of a good citizen in this republic of ours is that he shall be able and willing to pull his own weight.” With that thought in mind and an eagerness to help City Council and city staff support its residents, I volunteered for the Natural Resources Advisory Board (NRAB).
However, with no prior announcement and through the invisible hands of our local government this board is no longer in existence. As reported in the Jan. 15 Winchester Star, City Council voted to eliminate the NRAB.
It was reported that I was the only member of this board and that the NRAB had “taken on a life of its own.” It is true I am the only remaining member of the NRAB. Following the resignations of my fellow board members, I requested a meeting with the city manager to address various concerns of the board and to discuss the decision of my fellow members to resign. All are prominent members of the Winchester community.
I thought the city manager might want to discuss why this occurred, what prompted the action, and to address the NRAB’s future status within the city government. I sent in my request more than three months ago and never received a reply. Consequently, I never had the opportunity to address the NRAB with the city manager.
Now I find that City Council, in coordination with the city manager, has decided to eliminate the NRAB. As its current chairman, I was never notified that council was to address this topic, and, consequently, I was never afforded the opportunity to address the issues involved with this decision. I was never able to respond to the concerns of council that the NRAB had “taken a life of its own” because no member of the council respected my position on the board, nor my opinion. City Council, as well as the city manager, ignored me.
Even though I was angered and disappointed, I refrained from going public with my discontent and requested a meeting with one of my local ward members on council to discuss their actions. But even here I was rebuffed and never heard back on my request.
This is an unacceptable way of treating a city resident who voluntarily gave up his free time to assist city staff, City Council and the residents of Winchester to serve on the NRAB. A properly run city government does not treat residents and volunteers in this manner.
What angers me most is that I thought the city manager and council members were my neighbors, people I could count on. Instead, I find out all I am is a vote and a source of money, nothing more.
As for the comments that the NRAB had taken on its own life, not one council member came to our meetings to address this issue at any time. As chairman, I met with members of council to address specific NRAB actions, and they were quite supportive. If the Council members had been truly concerned with operation of the NRAB, they should have met with the board and coordinated a solution. The NRAB meetings were always open, and we valued the city’s input. We strived hard to meet the needs of council, the city manager, and the residents of Winchester. To be treated in such a manner is disingenuous and disrespectful.
I am thankful for the time spent with my fellow board members and appreciate their dedication and service. We worked long and hard to make Winchester the best, and I sincerely hope our efforts were not in vain. I look forward to better times when we have a city government that is concerned with the hearts and minds of its residents, and not with its own agenda.
David L. Worthington is a resident of Winchester.