Gabber/GMC Debate Appreciation
Dear Editor: Thanks for doing this! I attended the debate via Zoom and found it very well done and helpful in my decision making. I so appreciate all you are doing for our community. – Phyllis Plotnick
Do Truth and Transparency Matter?
Dear Editor: On October 1, 2019, Gulfport City Council held the first of two meetings for the purpose of the city’s required, every-ten-year charter review. In preparation, I read the sections being reviewed on October 1 and found Section 103 to be bit different than what I had been told it meant by a senior staff member. The matter concerned the city selling foreclosed property and it requiring a referendum. My question was clarified by the city attorney. The information I had received was incorrect.
At the following city council meeting, the minutes of October 1 were presented for adoption. The minutes appeared to contain an error in context, which I believe was a simple, human error. I asked the council to please correct the minutes before adopting them. The mayor stated he had discussed the matter with the city clerk; that he didn’t want to get into the habit of correcting the minutes; the minutes didn’t have to be verbatim; and last there was a video people could view to make sure that the minutes were written correctly. The video is only required to be maintained for two years. The minutes are maintained forever.
The city council at the time remained silent and declined to act on my request. In November 2019, Councilman Dan Liedtke asked City Attorney Salzman if the minutes were correct. Attorney Salzman stated they were not correct. Again the city council opted not to make any corrections.
In the 17 months since I first brought this issue forward, I have asked on multiple occasions for the current council, now including Ms. Thanos, to correct the minutes. The request has been met with no action, every time. It is difficult for me to understand why a body of elected officials would knowingly and willingly adopt incorrect minutes into the permanent legislative history of the City of Gulfport. Particularly since the issue deals with the city charter, which serves as the framework for our local government.
It is true that the minutes do not need to be verbatim, but one would think that the elected officials would at least want the context to be correct. Why approve false information into Gulfport’s permanent records? Personally, I think the optimum action would have been to rewrite the charter section so that staff and the public both understand it. Nonetheless, the truth has yet to prevail because of the council’s refusal to act. In my opinion, truth and transparency reflect character and integrity. Mayor and council members, would you please tell us why are you so loathe to embrace truth and transparency in this matter? – M. Tober