MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

October 19, 2012

Council should listen more, not less


— Citizens should have a voice in city government — even if they are not citizens of Muskogee.

A committee considering changes governing public comments during city meetings shot down a suggestion that would have limited access to Muskogee residents.

The committee’s decision was right on the mark.

The committee has a tough job, but should be leaning in the direction of more participation, not less.

The idea of limiting comments to Muskogee residents arose after a Fort Gibson resident commented on our streets.

Cities should answer to residents (taxpayers) first — that’s true.

 But there are advantages to hearing from people not from our city.

The Fort Gibson resident obviously drove on our streets. Why is that comment unworthy of being heard?

Individuals who work or shop in Muskogee might tell us what they like or don’t like about our city.

We want to hear those impressions.

Sometimes it takes fresh eyes to bring fresh ideas.

More voices create a larger pool of ideas. More ideas give you a better chance of finding a worthy one.

It is possible meetings could run longer.

The Muskogee City Council does not appear to be overrun by out-of-towners seeking to take up the councilors’ time at meetings.

Limiting comments on legitimate topics limits participation in government.