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Many questions remain before election
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From Judie Hintzman
I was flabbergasted to read letters to the editor this week from candidates in next Tuesday's elections - letters obviously extolling the self-acclaimed "virtues" of men running for public office. That's a real slide from the journalistic integrity the Times has displayed for more than 30 years. By publishing those letters as "news" the Times is, in effect, giving those candidates an unfair advantage, especially at this 11th hour before a very important election. Any political candidate who has a statement to make can and should say whatever he wishes in a paid advertisement that is clearly marked as an ad paid for by the candidate's campaign, thus giving the public an opportunity to decide the truth or baloney that's being propagated.
As for me, I, and many, many others, have many questions that have either not been asked or not been answered regarding what seems to be a hidden agenda at City Hall:
• Does Mayor Marsh have a long-range plan to name himself the new full-time mayor, thus eliminating, in his mind at least, the need for a city administrator? Has Mr. Marsh actually applied, or intend to apply, for the city administrator's position?
• Can any citizen walk in off the street and get a copy of the budget, a current fiscal statement, or a current ordinance? It is my understanding that the only way anyone, even some aldermen, can get public information is to go through the mayor's office. The mayor is not now, never has been, and certainly never should be the keeper of public documents. State law is very clear on this and the fact that the general public is not gaining immediate access to official documents is not only illegal, it is immoral. There seems to be absolutely no transparency in the current administration, though the public has a clear right to know.
• What is a reasonable explanation for the fact that the City of Monroe did not have an audit for two years? Mayor Marsh has publicly blamed the lapse on the city's auditors, Reffue, Pas, Jacobson & Koster. If that's the case, why didn't the city hire a different auditor? The result has been the loss of the city's bond rating which brings with it a huge financial penalty.
• What is a reasonable explanation for action taken last summer to halt construction on the downtown streetscape project, even though the aldermen and the mayor had previously approved the plans? And since when does a department head have the authority to take such a step without full council approval, or even just the approval of the Board of Public Works, especially in a situation that is clearly a non-emergency situation?
• What is a reasonable explanation for the fact that council minutes, required by law to be published following every meeting, weren't posted for two years?
• Can anyone at City Hall explain what happened a couple of weeks ago when a permit authorized by the appropriate committee of aldermen and sent to the council for a formal vote was literally changed and/or rewritten before it ended up on the council agenda? That's an incredibly slippery slope - to think that duly elected officials made a decision and sent it to council only to have it changed smacks of dictatorship at its best. Whatever happened to democracy?
• Is the current Mayor proud of the fact that he didn't pay his property taxes for "investment" reasons and has he given any thought to what would happen to the city's coffers if every taxpayer in the city of Monroe decided to follow his lead?
• Why has it taken so long to hire a city administrator, a position created by ordinance and budgeted, therefore, actually "law?"
There are dozens of other similar questions that remain unanswered, sometimes because they're not being asked.
It's time to clean house and get our local government operating in a reasonable and democratic fashion - as it was meant to be.
I would urge every voter in the city of Monroe to think long and hard about all of the unanswered questions when they mark their ballots next Tuesday.