(72nd in a series of posts on 2 W. Market St.)
The 2nd round of supporting statements on 2 W. (69)
Let’s have a discussion about whether a Council member “owes” the constituents in a controversy as well as the general public a rationale for voting in a particular way. Council president Waldron correctly affirmed that most votes on Council are easy, ending 7-0. So Gadfly is not in worriment on those kinds of situations.
He means the tough cases – like 2 W. Market.
2 W. Market has rumbled across the city committee terrain and through several courts for five years or so. Neighbors have faced themselves over microphones and back fences. Hatfields and McCoys in the Northside Historical District.
In such cases, does a CM, especially a Cprez, “owe” everybody a rationale for the defining, deciding, swing vote?
Gadfly says yes. Most definitely.
Especially as was the case in the first reading where the Cprez’s vote would break a 3-3 tie after a draining 3hr. or so meeting.
Gadfly wrote that such a rationale-less vote by Cprez Waldron climaxing the first reading was “unconscionable.” Tough talk by ol’ Gadfly.
Another member of Council disagreed with his criticism.
How about you?
Gadfly feels the reason behind a vote is as important as the vote itself.
Gadfly feels the public has a right to know. The public has the right to judge the judge.
So, assuming that most likely the votes wouldn’t change on second reading, and assuming that the same situation building to the final vote would obtain, Gadfly looked forward expectantly to the concluding vote by Cprez Waldron.
Only to be stunned again.
Cprez Waldron gave a rationale this time. He based his yes vote on “faith,” faith in Quadrant (though he had just heard of Mr. Rij’s threat to a fellow Council member), faith that only a few properties are affected by the change (though agreeing to table the motion and study the list of properties might have eliminated the need to rely on faith), faith in the Zoning Board (which has had decisions reversed by higher courts), faith in the whole process (when in the previous Council meeting immediately preceding this one he had just presided over a process at 306 S. New that went to hell in a handbasket).
Gadfly would like to believe like Cprez Waldron. In a perfect world. But he can’t.
Gadfly is not sure that Cprez Waldron means “faith” in a theological sense, but that’s where Gadfly goes with it.
We live in a fallen world. People do not always do good. That’s why we have law. That’s why we need law. That’s why we uphold law.
We expect legislators/judges to act on facts not faith.
It is very, very, very hard for Gadfly to accept that “faith in the better nature of all of us” is the operative principle in the decision-making faculty of the head of City Council.
The Cprez recognized that some would call him naïve. Yes.
Gadfly finds his vote disturbing.
As usual, Gadfly is willing to be persuaded otherwise or whacked upside the head.
What do you think?
The actual words from the December 18 meeting on which these observations are based can be found in The 2nd round of supporting statements on 2 W. (69). Gadfly always suggests that you go the unmediated source and make your own observations. Gadfly’s reflections on the first round of supporting statements can be found in Critiquing the votes (65)
2 thoughts on “Final observations on 2 W. Market – Part 3: the faith factor (72)”
Me thinks the Council president and some others should be putting more of their “faith” in the laws than in people who may benefit by their manipulation.
Based on some of the commentary made by supporters, who spoke before Council, there was a feeling that local people know more about what they want in their communities. This was a reference to Commonwealth Court overturning the variance.
My reaction to that was that law is law and it has no bearing on what local people deem is best for themselves. Commonwealth Court looked at law, not how much of a community participant someone is or whether they are nice people, or to threats of Section 8 Housing.
This has been and will continue to be about one thing only, law, and how it applies to a single situation.
by Allentown standards, this case received more due diligence than was exercised in removing 37 properties to make way for a publicly financed, privately owned new center city district.
as an “outsider”, the use of property for a low impact office, near a commercial district, does not seem inappropriate.
I believe that public officials are elected to apply their best judgement. An “explanation” isn’t mandatory, and would not satisfy the opposed anyway.