Public meetings bring their own kind of excitement
Believe it or not, not all public meetings are overflowing with excitement.
They can be short and sweet. At other times they are tedious with details, facts and figures.
But almost always there’s some debate. It’s amazing what can happen when you put people together to solve problems.
Take this week’s La Grande City Council meeting for example. No complex debate took place, but questions were raised that prompted a change. The council voted to use a different firm for its audit — for the first time in decades.
This may seem inconsequential, who does the audit. The firm must meet certain qualifications and the processes are likely very similar among firms. Audits may not mean much when they come back clean, but the minute one doesn’t, people will want answers. Audits serve as important accountability tools, which are anything but inconsequential.
Councilor John Lackey suggested the city switch firms as it is considered best practice to change firms every five years. Councilor Jerry Sebestyen argued that good results had come from the local firm that has done La Grande’s audits for years.
It was a close vote, 4-3, to switch to a Pendleton firm. Citizens may or may not like that result, but the councilors each had their reasons for their vote. More importantly, the vote came after councilors reviewed the information and then had meaningful conversation about it — and disagreed about it.
This debate may not mean much to you, but perhaps to others it will.
Maybe you are more concerned about getting a new courthouse or Shelter From the Storm. That debate will almost definitely result in changes that impact our community. And already, there is obvious disagreement on where a new court facility should be sited. Both of these organizations — court and the shelter — are extremely important to this community. I expect an intriguing dialogue at the next county commissioner meeting.
These local debates aren’t like the ones you see on TV. These are about issues much closer to home, about your neighbors and friends, about your daily life.
Perhaps one of these debates will give you insight into the thought process of your leaders — or push you to run for a seat yourself. I invite you to attend a public meeting if you haven’t. They’re public for a reason. And the debate, at least for me, is inspiring.