The snow gate issue has been interesting to follow over the past two years. The city has been testing snow gates for a couple of years. If you read the report, it is clear that it will cost taxpayers more money for snow removal, it will slow down operations and it will narrow streets.
However, if you listen to the snow gate petition organizers and the people who signed the petitions to get it on the ballot, they don't care what it costs, how long it takes or that it will narrow their streets. They just do not want to have to shovel that mound of snow dumped at the end of their driveway and they want the city to do it for them.
Plenty of past political officials signed the petition and they were identified at the council meeting last night as if to prove that the present city council was not in tune with everyone. I personally do not lay much stock in these past officials signage on the petitions. I think some of them probably signed the petitions as a political statement to the present administration, but that is just speculation on my part.
It was interesting to watch the public testimony last night and the council responses. I can see both sides. People do not not want to shovel the snow dumped at the end of their driveways by those motor graders. I don't like to do it either. The petitioners want someone else to take care of their snow problem. The city council is concerned about money, logistics and operational issues. That's their job and they were doing it last night.
If you assume the general public is well informed when they signed the snow gate petition, then you can assume that those 8,000 plus people know it will cost more money, it will take more time to plow streets clean and it will narrow their streets. I am sure the people who organized the petition drive let people know those facts when they encouraged them to sign their petitions. Right?
I understand the city councilors concerns about logistics regarding all those leased vehicles and sub-contractors hired to assist the city in plowing streets. But the fact is they have been researching this issue for a couple years now and those subcontractors should have been voicing their opinions/concerns about meeting the requirements by now and figuring out whether they can do it or not. Right?
My disclaimer - I don't support snow gates. I have read the report and I don't want to spend taxpayer dollars on something that can only be used when snow levels are low. I don't want snow removal to take longer than the 3 days it now takes to plow out the entire city. I don't want narrower streets in the winter. When it goes to a public vote, I will vote no.
However, I am of the opinion that the vote should have been held in April. It is the city's job to research the issue and get the logistics studied and identified and communicated to the public. It's called educating the public. The snow gate petitioners organized and got enough signatures to call for a vote.
Whether you agree with this referral action or not, is no longer relevant. Maybe the city should have been more engaged and vocal about communicating and educating the public about it's reservations while the petition action was going on. Between now and April, the city could have been communicating it's reservations about this issue and laying out all the facts.
I know, I know, they said they don't have all the facts. The problem is the petitioners don't believe them and think they are stalling because they don't support snow gates. It seems to be a trust issue with Stehly and her army of supporters.
There is a bigger issue here, in my opinion. When people start organizing referrals and petitions affecting operational issues that are the responsibility of the administration and the city council, then there is going to be a problem. Citizens can't be in charge of day to day administration and operational matters. There will be a breakdown in government services. That is why we elect people to oversee such matters.
And that is why you saw what you saw last night. This is not good government, people. If you don't like what the city council and the mayor are doing then vote them out of office. Referring day to day operational matters to a public vote is wrong and Stehly and her army, no matter what their good intentions, are wrong in this petition drive. And yes, the council was wrong last night in postponing the election.
And now everyone can see the breakdown in good government.