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Your Opinion: Residents deserve more input on center

Dear Editor:

Well, they have done it again. Back in Feb. 10, 2011, on page A1, the News Tribune published this quote: “There is one thing for certain. We will have lots of public meetings and charrettes and discussions to get lots of public input from all of the different constituencies about what we should do with the conference center, how big we should build it and what facilities it should have.” Steve Rasmussen, former city administrator made those statements during an interview.

I attended the special City Council meeting Sept. 5 regarding the latest market survey and its contents. When the topic of public meetings was mentioned, it was concluded that public comments would be restricted to limited (unspecified) subjects.

A source said that a public meeting has been scheduled for Sept. 16 at 6 p.m. in City Hall, where the public would be allowed a 30-minute window for comments on the conference center. Likely, there will be a three-minute time limit imposed for each speaker.

There are two major points about this:

This is a complex subject in which the public should be allowed a longer time limit so city officials are fully aware of the public’s feelings about the conference center and numerous meetings should be scheduled; and

Rasmussen’s statement was a promise to the citizens that there would be a fair and complete series of public input that has never been rebutted by city officials until now.

City officials have ignored the various forms of communication from citizens who have a totally different view of the need for a conference center. City officials have also ignored citizens’ input regarding what must be done to assure the center is financially feasible without taxpayer subsidies. City officials have turned off their hearing whenever citizens express serious concerns about the conference center.

This is a prime example of why a growing number of citizens believe that the conference center affair has been conducted primarily in secret and confusion. Such actions solidify the lack of confidence and trust in out city officials. City officials continue to act as if their appointment or election to office grants them superior knowledge and power at the expense of those citizens who end up paying the bill. Who works for who has been reversed.

Citizens of the community deserve better.

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