Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Resposne to Melanie's comment

Here is a comment that was made on my post about our meeting with Sterling Beck. My response to the comment was too long to fit in the comment section, so I have reproduced the comment here and offer my response below.

Comment made buy "Melanie":

Thank you for getting involved. Your attempt to give information and solicit protest is great! Unfortunately, some of your facts are incorrect:
1: No public comment will be allowed during study sessions.
2: No signs will be allowed in Council Chambers.
3: Comments about items on the agenda will not be allowed during the first "public comment" portion of the meeting.
4: Getting to the truancy ordinance may take a very long time. Children could be sitting for HOURS -- an unrealistic expectation?
5. Sterling Beck has shown on several occasions that he does not understand the ordinance. You should have invited someone else to brief you.


Melanie:

Thanks for taking the time to express your concerns. I'm really new at this and I acknowledge that I may not have all the details correct about everything.

Let's take a look at your concerns one by one:

1. No public comment will be allowed during study sessions.

I was unsure about this myself, having never attended a study session, My husband and I went to speak with the Deputy Attorney for the City of Provo, Ryan Wood (a regular participant with the city council in council meetings) to find out when concerned citizens could address the council. He told us that it is common in study session for the council to hear from citizens on issues on the agenda. When Council Member Beck was at our house we also asked him about it. He said that while the council is under no obligation to hear from the public in that meeting, the regularly do. He made it clear to us that, the fact, the council does have the authority to clear the chamber for their discussion. I expect that based on the amount of angst that this proposed ordinance has generated in the past 48 hours has made some members of the council uneasy about the prospect of allowing citizens of Provo to be heard in this venue. According, it now appears that the council is going to attempt to consolidate the discussion of this proposed ordinance into the municipal council session which begins at 7:00 p.m. I do find it interesting that in the agenda (http://www.provo.org/userfiles/downloads/council/councilagenda-2011_03_01_public.pdf) the start of the study session is listed as 4:00 p.m. while in the study packet(www.provo.org/userfiles/downloads/council/study_packet_1-4-11.pdf) it is shown as 4:30. My guess is that this inconsistency arose in last-minute shuffling to change the nature of the discussion to be allowed in the study session. This is an inconvenience but not a big deal.

2. No signs will be allowed in Council Chambers.

This is exactly what Council Member Beck told us. Our intent in organizing a peaceful protest with signs is for public visibility, to raise awareness about the issue with the voters of Provo. Accordingly, our planned use of the signs is outside the city complex. we hope that as council members come and go throughout the day, the will see us and understand that this is an issue that concerns us greatly. We intend to influence the minds of council with respect to the disposition of the proposed ordinance through reasoned argument, not vociferous protest.

3. Comments about items on the agenda will not be allowed during the first "public comment" portion of the meeting.

Thank you for this correction. I had misunderstood this point. What this means for us is that in the three minutes blocks ought not be used to address specific concerns with the proposed ordinance. Instead, concerned citizens should use the time to express broad concerns with the future direction of the council.

4. Getting to the truancy ordinance may take a very long time. Children could be sitting for HOURS -- an unrealistic expectation?

This is true, although I'm not sure why you have suggested this as a correction. The nice thing about the council chambers is that it is equipped with doors. Through these, people enter and exit the meeting while it is in progress. You are right, it would be unrealistic for anyone to expect that young children could sit calmly through the Municipal Council Meeting--I have trouble my self. Our main goal for inviting children is to get them involved with the protest, to get them actively involved in stopping a law that could have a very direct and negative effect on their lives.

Apparently, we agree that trying to get children to sit still for hour after hour is a bad idea. Yet, this what Provo City School District expects of the children in their care. Perhaps this is one factor that leads some children to choose truancy over study.

5. Sterling Beck has shown on several occasions that he does not understand the ordinance. You should have invited someone else to brief you.

Of all your comments, this one concerns me the most. I find it troubling that you could would suggest that it is inappropriate to invite a member of the city council to address a concerned group of citizens about a matter before the council. Are you saying that I should have chosen a different member of the council or do you believe that all members of the council do not understand (or are not capable of understanding) the ordinance?

Incidentally, we did not invite council member Beck to explain the ordinance--we are more than capable of understanding the short (but very poorly written) bit of proposed law. We invited him to help us understand what to expect as we began a direct campaign to sway the minds of the council to stop seriously considering this proposed ordinance.

The language of this proposed ordinance is clear, although its implication are less so. Somehow there seems to be a general feeling in our society (I believe intentionally perpetuated by some members of the council) that ordinary citizens could not possibly hope to understand the meaning conveyed by the language of any proposed ordinance. Instead, too many people believe that they must rely on "experts" to understand and decide if it is good for us. You seem to be among this group by the assumption that you have made that Beck's attendance was to explain the measure to the attendees. I hope you will take time to read the proposed legislation yourself and see if you don't agree that this would give authority to police officers to arrest six year old, first-time truants. See if you don't agree that it makes it a crime for business owners to knowingly allow a compulsory school age minor to stay at his establishment during truancy hours. See if you don't agree that this ordinance allows an officer to take a child old into temporary custody and, upon being unable to contact that person's parent or determine the school from which he is absent from, deliver that person to the custody of the Division of Child and Family Services.

After you decide on these items for yourself, I hope you will decide for yourself if you are a supporter or an opponent to this proposed ordinance.

2 comments:

Paul and Susan said...

This ordinance is very disturbing to me. I have 8 children that are at home during school hours and we like to go to the library. Although we live in Orem, my children enjoy going to the Provo library from time to time. I will usually drop off my kids and pick them up after an hour or so. The oldest kids, twins (age 15) will look after the 13, 11 and 9 year old and it works great for us. I guess this luxury is now a thing of the past for my family without the fear of them being taken into custody. It is crazy to be expected to present a "card" or "id" to prove they can be there, like we are illegals or something! This is an infringment of our rights and freedoms!!!

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