Wichita’s naysayers shortchanged again

At the December 2, 2008 meeting of the Wichita city council, three citizens spoke to the council on the same issue. The treatment these people received in the official minutes of the proceedings varied quite a bit.

At the meeting, Jeff Fluhr of the Wichita Downtown Development Corporation spoke in favor of action the city was contemplating. John Todd and I spoke against the action. The difference in the treatment given to each party in the minutes of the meeting is evidence of bias in the city’s attitude towards its citizens. Yes, the mayor and others thank us for our participation. But I don’t know if they really mean it.

I measured the length of each citizen’s talk, and counted the number of words of coverage received in the minutes. Here’s the results:

Jeff Fluhr: 1:08 minutes, 95 words.
John Todd: 4:04 minutes, 72 words.
Bob Weeks (me): 3:49 minutes, 13 words. About half of those words were my name and address.

What is the reason for this discrepancy? Does the position taken by each speaker have any effect? It seems so, as a similar situation took place in August, described in Wichita’s Naysayers Shortchanged in Council’s Record.

Perhaps the City of Wichita needs to do what the Board of Sedgwick County Commissioners does, which is to provide a verbatim transcript of each word spoken by everyone at the meeting. But that seems to generate its own problems and delays. As of today, minutes are available for meetings through November 12. For meetings after that date, minutes are not ready, at least on the county’s website. (The county prepares a short review of each meeting, and these are ready perhaps a week or so after each meeting.)

The minutes of this meeting are available here. Video of each citizen’s talk is available on YouTube: Jeff Fluhr, John Todd, and Bob Weeks.

1 Comment

  • The public hearings are designed for citizens to “let out steam” not to affect public policy, inasmuch, as policy had already been decided on by the Council prior to the public meetings. Sometimes, the Council is surprised by something the media uncovers or the votes are not solid for a particular issue and delays do occur. Supporters of the issue and contributors to the elected officials are always treated much better than the detractors.

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