Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2007 As I See It • Council meetings are place to discuss business; not to prove you’re right

Publisher’s note: This story originally appeared in the Tuesday, Feb. 20 issue of the Lassen County Times.

It is inevitable that some City Council meetings will take longer than two hours, especially when the agenda is long and filled with financial matters. However, five and a half hours is too long for anyone.

After putting in a regular workday, city staff and some concerned audience members stayed at the council meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 6 until 12:30 a.m. when the agenda’s business was concluded.

The question the next day was why was the meeting was so long. Two factors played into the marathon meeting — one legitimate and the other not so.

As I said, the agenda was long and detailed. The city’s audit was presented along with a five-year projection on how it fares when it comes to cash.

However, I think I am the only one who dare say out loud, or at least in print, that Councilmember Kurt Bonham had a not so subtle agenda to prove he was right. At one point he baited Financial Director Robert Porfiri with questions, until he got the answer he wanted. Smugly, he grinned and said, “That’s the answer I was looking for.”

Some of us wondered the next day why Bonham did not ask the question straight out rather than needle Profiri.

It is one thing to be transparent when it comes to city business, but it is another to use the dais as a platform to prove a point.

There is no doubt in my mind, or in others I talked to, that Bonham knew the answers to his questions but rather than confirm the answers, it appears he chose to use his position to preach his opinion. Ironically, as soon as two of his biggest supporters left for the night, Bonham no longer pontificated.

He has only been on the council eight months, but if he continues to use his position just to hear himself speak, it will be a long three years and four months until someone else takes his chair.

The council’s job is to make policy and review procedures offered by a competent staff. Its job is not to micromanage and do the staff’s work for them. It is also not a soapbox to pound out a personal agenda.