It is my pleasure to commend the Pullman City Council for its excellent broadcast of City Council meetings.
As I write this piece, I’ve just finished watching last Tuesday’s meeting on the city website. I cite it as one of the many good things the council is doing that helps interested residents inform themselves.
I truly appreciate not having to sit on an uncomfortable chair through hours of boring council meetings to be informed on a subject or two.
Planning Director Pete Dickenson didn’t mention me by name in his report to council, claiming that the city is proactive and “goes above and beyond state code,” but obviously was reacting to my Sept. 23 opinion piece in the Daily News.
There is nothing personal on my part with Pete, other councilors or the mayor. I assume all are good citizens and public servants. I also believe in the importance of civically and publicly expressed differences of opinion.
Dare I suggest that we have different ideas about what constitutes transparency and accountability? With the exception of Councilor Brandon Chapman, they either don’t measure those concepts by results, or they believe in minimal compliance.
Mayor Glenn Johnson defensively said, “The process in code is followed.”
Sorry, Glenn, but that reveals a tin ear. Pete’s advisement that more public communication isn’t possible because his department receives 700 or more applications for building permits each year doesn’t resonate well.
No one is suggesting that every application should go to the council, only that the council should be accountable for oversight of large projects such as apartment buildings and complexes, and residential developments.
As my Sept. 23 essay asserted, the council can change the code to provide better communication with residents.
During my first week in Pullman, back in October, 1972, I heard complaints about the council’s deaf ear to the concerns of residents.
Suggestions to speak out often elicit the comment, “It won’t do any good.”
The comments of those who live in R-1 and R-2 zones haven’t changed much in time. Here are a few, including some comments I’ve received from my recent His View essay, and comments that other readers have passed on from conversations with their friends and neighbors.
— “We are losing the culture of our neighborhood.”
— “People are moving out of their homes and renting them out to students. Stocking them with students.”
— “A single-family house in an R-1 zone was sold and the new owner has filled it with students. Five cars are usually parked in driveway.”
— “R-1 doesn’t mean anything anymore.”
— “Really quite serious.”
— “There’s no enforcement.”
— “We’ve been told we have to monitor our own neighborhood.”
Council and staff comments in Tuesday’s meeting significantly substantiated the latter complaint. It is a seriously flawed process, which pits neighbor against neighbor.
Finally, I wanted to quote a counselor, but didn’t know his name. So, I went into research mode, going to the city website for a gander of his photo and found none. Please excuse the journalistic term, but only Johnson’s “mug” is there.
So, what’s up?
Are council members afraid to post their pictures with their biographies, lest someone be able to recognize them on the street?
Terence L. Day is retired from the Washington State University faculty and has lived in Pullman for 47 years. He encourages email at firstname.lastname@example.org.