To the editor:
Since moving to Auburn in the fall of 1987, I have served this community as an English teacher at DeKalb High School, devoting the majority of my time and energy to the education of its young people. I have come to love this city and those who have made me a part of their lives. It is the place where I ended my career and where I will live out the rest of my life. You have made me feel a valuable member and it is home.
However, the expeditious manner in which an ordinance that made a major change in the operation of our city government puts into question the significance of my voice as a voter. Apparently, I am not the only one who was caught off-guard by the lightning speed with which the gavel came down on this important issue on Jan. 4. Mayor Mike Ley stated that he first learned about the ordinance establishing a utility service board on Wednesday prior to Tuesday's Auburn Common Council meeting. At three separate points in his Position Statement, he "respectfully request(ed) the council refer this ordinance to committee." In contradiction to Matthew Kruse's claim that "this is something the council has been studying for a while," Mike Walter admitted that he has been a member of the board since 2004 and, yet, Jan. 4 was the first time he had heard about this plan. He, too, moved for members to follow proper protocol by sending this change in operation of city government to an appropriate committee. There was no second to this motion. My question is this: Why wasn't "this ordinance referred to committee to be intensely vetted to create the best possible action" as requested by Mayor Ley?
Mr. Kruse stated that one of the motivating factors in drafting his ordinance was the need for transparency in this area of city government; yet, why am I, as a citizen of Auburn and a voter, not granted this same consideration? Why was a concern of this magnitude hurried through with no discussion or debate around the conference table of an unbiased committee? When I cast my vote for Matthew Kruse, Jim Finchum and Denny Ketzenberger as my City Council representatives, I trusted them to act professionally and judiciously in the best interest of Auburn. I expected studied and objective decisions, I expected transparency to the constituents of my district. What I witnessed on the night of Jan. 4, however, was not a government by the people, but a government of the chosen few.
In my 27 years of teaching high school students, I always tried to remember that they may forget what I said, they may forget what I did, but they will never forget how I made them feel. To the six members of the Auburn Common Council who bypassed public input, your actions Tuesday night made me feel as if my opinion did not matter. You made me feel as if my voice was insignificant. Hopefully, we, as concerned citizens who desire transparency into this major change in the modus operandi of our city government, will exercise our right in requiring proper procedure.
To my past students and others who have sat through those civic classes at DHS and have made Auburn their home, the accelerated manner in which this ordinance was passed on Jan. 4 by the DeKalb Common Council is not how a major change in the operation of city government is supposed to proceed. As a voting-age citizen, you have a voice, your opinion matters. You have a right to question your representatives and they have a responsibility to respond. I, too, have a right to hear the details behind this major change in how Auburn is governed. Knowledge is power and I plan to attend the next council meeting Jan. 18 at 6 p.m. in the Council Chambers to witness how the gavel will fall.