I agree with Redmond City Council member Hank Myers’ letter that the council needs more brains. But where to start?
In defending the city council’s 7-0 votes, Mr. Myers claims that proposals have already been “thoroughly vetted” by a lengthy administrative process when they reach the council. This reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of the legislative process. An important function of a legislative body is as a check on the permanent government. It is not enough that elected officials merely say yea or nay, their duty is to bring a considered deliberation to the process. It is essential that elected officials, when they do not have independent staff, do their own unbiased research and not depend upon a bureaucracy that may provide information, either consciously or unconsciously, to support a predetermined outcome. This check on the permanent government is essential.
Once a proposal comes to the full council, each member should apply his/her distinct knowledge and intelligence to the issue through an open process of debate, opinion, counter-opinion and argument to ensure that the policy to be adopted by the council is congruent with the desires and needs of the citizens of Redmond. Unanimity rarely results in good outcomes.
Mr. Myers might want to google an erstwhile Speaker of the House of Representatives, Sam Rayburn, who remarked, when two people agree on everything, only one of them is doing the thinking. So, who is doing the thinking for the seven in lock-step council members?
Given the council’s proclivity for agreement, Mr. Myers’ kidney analogy may be appropriate. Since a body can get by on only one kidney, perhaps the city council is unnecessary.