Believe me, the last thing we wanted to run in this week’s paper was a story about yet more controversy on the Marion City Council. But when there is dissent about whether appropriate, legal procedures are followed, there has to be a public discussion. If it is true that an attempt has been made to bypass the mayor’s authority or make her into a rubber stamp, we have no choice but to report it.
We are most concerned for the apparently well-qualified candidate involved. We know the person’s name but will not report it. Like the city officials we spoke to, we don’t want him to be caught in backlash of a city hall controversy.
It is important to note that Mayor Mary Olson did not bring the issue to us. We found out about it through private conversations with another city official. Olson reluctantly spoke about her concerns when we reached out to her. She wanted to get more information from an expert in Topeka before making her concerns public.
The problem in this situation is a willingness by some to move too fast in making decisions, even in a situation where it seems likely the full council would have reached the same conclusion. A candidate with existing ties to the community and a background in accounting seems like a slam-dunk, especially when other likely candidates flaked out and failed to attend an interview.
This isn’t the first time that a rushed decision has caused issues for the city. A drawn-out row over the county’s radio tower at the jail began when someone rushed a permit through rather than letting it go through the zoning board. When a company that considered locating in town chose not to because it didn’t like what it saw in the city’s zoning regulations, the correct choice wasn’t hiding those same regulations online; the correct choice would be taking the proper channels to amend those regulations to be more business-friendly.
We need more people — citizens and officials — to have faith in our system of government. Belief that you can only get things done by going outside proper channels is a more insidious source of negativity than any newspaper editorial. The irony is that the same people who will likely accuse us of negativity in this case are the people who have repeatedly shown a lack of faith in our civic institutions.
— ADAM STEWART