At Tuesday LFUCG worksessions, sometimes citizens see how the sausage gets made; sometimes it’s more like watching paint dry; some days, somebody lands in the briar patch.
On Tuesday, October 13: the big-box construction moratorium advanced to the docket (the moratorium did not pass or fail as some news headlines implied—it just advanced to a reading, after more than an hour of debate), and the S. Limestone project continued to proceed at the current pace (after hours of discussion).
Whether LFUCG chooses to embrace transparency or not (and by and large, they don’t), it’s happening anyway—thanks to GTV3 and live streaming, along with Twitter and Facebook.
Deflecting some of the S. Limestone criticism, for example, Commissioner Webb told the Council,
“What I felt my job was, was to find a way to get the work that Council had identified done. As I move from one position to another, this project has been like a tar baby. You wouldn’t expect the commissioner of Public Works to be as engaged in a project…”
The online responses were immediate—most of them a variation on: “he really said tarbaby?” One reader responded later with a link, “Contemporary usage of the term tar baby: http://tinyurl.com/yh5apdy.” Another reader added, “it’s considered to be a slur by most people and probably isn’t a good phrase for a public official to be using.”
CM Myers, who earlier in the session had commented at some length on the “inappropriateness” of a corporate logo on Rob Morris’s powerpoint presentation (which then had to be edited out before the presentation resumed later in the session), had only one question for S. Limestone project manager George Milligan (phrased more as an invitation than a question).
Myers: “...on the Council Member that asked Mr. Milligan—since he was the Project Manager— if he had found any violations, as he’s been managing the project, so I wanted to give you an opportunity to just speak to that.”
Milligan’s response, “At the present time, the team has not found any substantial violations of the project.”
(No written S. Limestone contractor compliance violations were presented prior to Council worksession; none were addressed in closed or open session.)
Following the moratorium discussion online, comments ranged from:
“When Lee Todd first came to UK—he pushed so much ‘Town/Gown’ and ‘College Town’ hype —where is he now?”
Professor Kakie Urch’s UK JOU 499 monitored parts of the LFUCG-UK discussion via Twitter.
One UK student commented on October 12, “Ohio State = far ahead,” quoting a twitter posting from Ohio State President Gee (who can be followed at http://twitter.com/presidentgee.) President Gee’s Twitter account appears to be manned by a PR office, or possibly a 12-year-old girl —since university presidents seldom speak in exclamation points (“Time to show the nation that Ohio State means alternative energy!”)—the point is well-taken that Ohio State seems to be cultivating transparency and engagement from the top down.
UK and LFUCG have work to do on both fronts.