48-hour rule a bad idea for East Ridge

48-hour rule a bad idea for East Ridge

January 10th, 2013 in Opinion Free Press

Should East Ridge City Council members be able to pack the council agenda with last-minute proposals that the public (and other council members) don't have enough time to consider? Some of them apparently think so.

At tonight's meeting, the East Ridge City Council will consider whether to scrap the city's current "seven-day rule" that requires a week's notice to place an item on the council agenda. Some council members want to change the rule to require a mere 48-hours notice. That would allow them to shoehorn an issue on the agenda only two days before a council meeting.

Adopting a 48-hour rule is the wrong move for several reasons. First, and most significantly, two days is simply not enough time to allow concerned East Ridge residents to consider important issues and express their views on the issues to the council members that represent them.

Second, slashing the notice time for agenda items from seven days to two is an unreasonable burden on the city employees responsible for typing and printing the agendas, and posting the agendas (physically and electronically) so the public has been made aware of changes.

Finally, East Ridge already has a 48-hour rule that can be used if needed. The mayor has the ability to put items on the agenda with two days' notice. That means if there's an emergency that the council should tackle quickly -- such as tornado or flood damage to city buildings that requires immediate funding in order to address -- a method already exists to handle the issue.

Abolishing the seven-day rule, which has served the city and its residents well, in favor of a 48-hour rule won't allow the council more ability to react to crises. Instead it will empower council members with the ability to more easily sneak dubious ideas past East Ridge residents.

The East Ridge City council has made positive steps in recent weeks to clean up city government. Now is not the time to adopt an unneeded policy that would make the East Ridge government less open and accountable to its residents.