From Gloria Moon:
A Confusing Process
I would like to comment on a Bill, specifically Bill 16-002 which curtails protection of non-tidal wetlands whose area is a bit less than an acre. I think the bill demonstrates a negligence in protecting our diminishing fragile lands.
However, I am confused as to why this bill has been introduced. There is no reason attached to the bill as an introduction or rationale for it. Not a single “Whereas” is included to explain its existence. One is left to believe it was snatched out of thin air and delivered via paper airplane to the County Council.
Citizens are expected to speak at the required Public Hearing about the bill only minutes after hopefully learning of any reason for it, why it was proposed, how much actual property would be impacted, and where those properties might lie. One can only hope that County Council members would question the Administration for the benefit of the people who are attending or watching the meeting. We understand that the Administration has already privately briefed and explained all the intricacies of the bill and also answered any Councilman’s questions.
But, the public who are only allowed to speak immediately after this Q&A has but a few brief minutes to digest and comment. They cannot ask questions. They cannot receive answers. Up until and often after the bill is discussed, the people are in the dark.
The Council can then amend the bill. The Council can then vote on the bill.
An amendment is read aloud using line numbers which often obscures the intent of the amendment. Sometimes the amendment is explained, sometimes not. There is no protocol in place to allow any citizen to comment on an amendment no matter how it changes the original intent or meaning of the bill. They just do it.
There is no protocol that says the Council must wait to give citizens a chance to call, email, write or phone their comments about amendments.
They can just vote – and do it.
Perhaps this letter will help explain why people are not contacting their legislators. Their legislators are not contacting them, not asking for input, not explaining the bill before they vote. The County should trust people with all the information which goes into the formation of a bill. Reasons for legislation should not be kept a secret known only to a few. Every bill this County enacts affects every person who lives here. We deserve to know all the facts – unfiltered and unbiased.