The trouble with committees

by Diane Benjamin

County and City governments are now governing by committee.  In order to move things along faster, government has decided that various committees would examine issues, draw conclusions, and then report to the full board for a vote.

Bloomington has 9 alderman and 3 main committees:  Administration and Finance, Infrastructure, and Public Safety.  There are numerous other committees that citizens can volunteer to serve on:

Since there are 9 alderman, each of the 3 main committees have 3 alderman, plus Mayor Renner and the City Manager David Hales.  These meetings are open to the public and should be attended by citizens who wonder where their tax dollars go.  More plans are made at these meetings than the City Council meetings.  The issues are already decided by the time they go to the Council.  Many alderman believe every vote should be unanimous so the Council looks united.  What it amounts to is divide and conquer.

Convincing 3 members of the Council to support an agenda is a lot easier than convincing 9.  David Hales eventually takes over the meetings and tells the Alderman what to think.  The Committee then reports back to the Council, most who believe in “can’t we all just get along”.  Any dissent at Council meetings is reported in the Pantagraph as one or two alderman being unreasonable.  Who is looking out for you?

Tonight’s City Council meeting packet is 427 pages.  Most of the packets are around this size.  Every 2 weeks the alderman receive a monstrous packet to review and be prepared to vote.  How is this different from Congress getting 2000 page bills that nobody reads?  The alderman are paid very little for this very part-time job, so I doubt that all members read every page.

The agenda is 4 pages with a long list of “Consent Agenda” items that will be expected to pass without any discussion.  The alderman can request an item be pulled for discussion and some occasionally

Maybe the real problem is government interference in areas they shouldn’t be, the latest being the licensing of EVERY business in Bloomington.  David Hales constantly complains about being short staffed, even though he has added many employees after a short time of reductions from early retirements a few years ago.

Suggestion:  A 5 year moratorium on all discretionary spending not related to decaying infrastructure.  How about government avoids doing social and financial engineering for a change?  Absolutely no exceptions.  No studies, no new parks, no Community Center or public funded soccer fields.  No more tax breaks for developers which only transfers the tax liabilities to all other taxpayers.  If the Council hasn’t noticed, Illinois is being destroyed from within by debt.  Maybe all local governments should duck for cover before they become Detroit.

Infrastructure has been ignored for 15 years while the city gifted it’s citizens with the Coliseum and the Cultural District.  How about gifting citizens with roads that don’t cause spinal injuries.





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