Friday October 12, 2012

After spending the last nine months in Afghanistan as an advisor to the Afghan government, I thought I had seen it all. But Tuesday night’s City Council meeting made the corrupt, sectarian, and often contentious Afghan parliament look like a well-oiled democratic machine.

The attempt to bring a vote of no confidence on the city solicitor was a mockery of public office. What became very clear, from the very first open mic speaker to the final withdrawal of the original petition, was that there is very real and dangerous lack of communication on the council.

Several councilors used their extremely generous allocation of time to educate the public on nonsensical definitions of legal terms, personal reviews of the court transcripts, and their personal opinions of the legal case surrounding Spec trum Health care. They all admitted to not being lawyers, but the public was treated to a mind numbing overview of the law.

Melissa Mazzeo summed it up best when she stated that if all the councilors were so adamant about this petition they should have signed the original petition instead of adding additional complaints during the public viewing of the council meeting. She also stated that communications between the councilors could have and should have prevented this deliberate attempt to defame a hard-working public servant and that she hopes this never happens again. So do we, Melissa.

Ultimately and almost on cue, Councilor Yon asked the president to reverse her petition for a vote of no confidence and table the matter, but not until after the majority of the councilors took their best shots at both the mayor and the city solicitor. They were able to communicate just fine in front of the TV cameras and the public -- maybe they should try to practice a little more communication amongst themselves and leave the legal reviews to lawyers and law professors.

If I learned one important lesson as a participant in thousands of meetings during my mil i tary career it is this: if you don’t have anything of value to add to a discussion, then don’t add it.

JIM CLARK

Pittsfield