When this new City Council finally meets in December of 2004, it will truly be our citizens’ City Council. We created it; we will hold it accountable.
But to have created this new City Council is not enough.
To succeed, this citizens’ City Council needs a citizen leader; someone who is not part of the current City Council culture; who is not indebted to the old ways of doing business. We need a new City Council President who can continue the reform we began in the voting booth.
Joan Floyd is the singular, alternative choice for President of the Baltimore City Council. If elected, she is determined to lead our citizens’ City Council to work smarter and harder for Baltimore.
Joan Floyd has listened to our complaints, and she has a plan for City Council reform. Here are some highlights. Joan Floyd says…
“I attend a lot of City Council hearings. Too often, people come to give impasssioned testimony on an issue that’s really important to them, only to find that they’re facing only one of two council members. It frustrates them that they took time away from work or family to come and testify, yet their paid, elected representatives aren’t there to listen. If Baltimore’s citizens put me in charge of the City Council, I will:
- end the practice of holding committee hearings without a quorum present;
- require council members to attend their assigned committee hearings and voting sessions; and
- record council members’ attendance and votes, making them readily available to the public, so that constituents can hold their district council members accountable.”
“It is impossible for citizens to participate in government when they only find out about City Council actions right before they happen — or even after. Citizens know that to participate, they need to know in advance the ‘where and when’ … and the ‘what’. As City Council President, I will:
- announce final agenda for all regular meetings, including committee sessions, well in advance;
- make these announcements readily accessible to the public; and
- make the complete texts of proposed legislation and amendments easy for the public to obtain.”
“Citizens are astounded to find out that City Council members have voted on bills without understanding them; sometimes, without even reading them. Once in office, I will:
- make sure City Council members have the information they need to make good decisions by conducting independent fact-finding, and making this information available to members and citizens alike; and
- expect that each and every City Council member who votes on a bill has read it, understands it, and has considered its potential impact on Baltimore’s citizens.”
“At City Council votes, I’ve heard citizens express amazement at how little discussion and debate there is, and how rushed the voting process is. I am determined to:
- encourage and facilitate meaningful discussion in open session before votes are taken; and
- actively slow down the voting process so that each council member’s vote is clearly understood.”
We citizens know that it is unacceptable for our paid, elected representatives to ignore conflicts of interest … to make deals behind our backs … to make decisions behind closed door. To make sure these “old ways of doing business” end, we have a choice. We must use the power of our votes again.