Feigned indignation at the city council?

For the editor,

I recently viewed an online recording of the April 21st Mount Airy City Council meeting.

It was a bit like watching the Oscars – with the slap!

As the meeting edged closer to a scheduled discussion of the now well-known drama Uncorked, Commissioner Marie Wood stepped up to inappropriately chastise Commissioner Jon Cawley for, among other council sins, daring to mention Uncorked – which until then had apparently remained a secret known to a select few – including members of the planning committee, a few hand-picked commissioners, and probably others with top-secret board-approved clearance to them. would reveal how and why local business Uncorked had become intrinsically linked to a request to change a municipal ordinance. (Apparently Wood forgot that the Business-Which-Cannot-Be-Named was originally referenced, aloud, by a city employee – whose name will not be released lest he too be publicly censored. )

Later in the meeting, Wood’s verbal slap was reinforced by Commissioner Steve Yokeley, who said he didn’t like the insinuation that council members weren’t doing their homework.

With Wood and Yokeley’s Oscar-worthy performances of feigned outrage brushed aside, Commissioner Cawley addressed the elephant in the room – which is the lack of transparency that seems to be routinely applied to council deliberations in order to to guarantee a pre-determined vote on key issues. Obviously, in the case of “Uncorked-gate,” not all commissioners had been provided with the same background information (including relevant implications and potential consequences) that is supposed to help inform their vote. Indeed, the limited information provided to Cawley made no mention of Uncorked — or that this facility stood to benefit from the ordinance change being enacted.

I believe that the only reason such covert and underhanded shenanigans are allowed to plague our local governing body is so that the board can continue its ‘hidden and swiped’ decision-making process – whereby relevant pieces of information are conveniently hidden, omitted or deliberately withheld from one or more Commissioners so that others can easily drag their preferred outcome through the voting process. No votes should be taken unless and until all Commissioners are working from the same script.

Kudos to Commissioner Cawley for once again standing up for truth and transparency. And shame on the mayor for not showing the leadership necessary to demand, with immediate effect, that all background information and/or recommendations shared with all council members be exactly the same – with no seemingly calculated omissions of relevant factors.

Rebecca Harmon

Mount Airy

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