I went to the town hall meeting about Gainesville city budget issues last night. I got there a little late because I had to rush from the other side of town after getting done with a job later than I had hoped. I arrived at about 6:10 as city manager Russ Blackburn was giving a Powerpoint presentation on what a great job the city is doing keeping expenses down. Then came the much anticipated citizen comments, so I was right on time.
About 100 people had come out for the 6pm meeting in some lousy weather. Most of them had come to complain about high taxes or some other injury they felt they were suffering, which is the very purpose of a meeting like this. Someone should have told the city commissioners. Instead, it was another chance to tell the citizens why they were ill-informed and just wrong.
After the first citizen commenter finished, there was a few seconds of scattered applause. Mayor Lowe, who has very high standards for decorum, warned the people not to applaud because applause disparities might, “make people feel bad.” However, when one of they city’s plants took her turn to speak, she spent most of her comment time scolding the citizens for, “not doing their homework before speaking.” She said this several times without rebuke from the Mayor for making anyone “feel bad”.
No matter what complaint about higher taxes and fees, which are very real things, the city commissioners blew off the concerns of the citizens as if they were imaginary. Only one man came out and said what most of us were thinking: “This is a waste of time. We just need to vote you people out.” Amen, brother!