City Council Seating Arrangement

GRAVITAS . . . . Fair and Brutal Opinion (Trapped by Facts)

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 M the Media Project

About Contributing Journalist Scott J. Graves in his own words

Scott J. Graves, Esq., B.S. Biology, M.S. Pharmacology, J.D. Law – Father, Born-and-Bred Gardnerien-American, Gardner Native of Acadien Heritage, Gardner High School Class of 1982, Gardner Citizen-Voter, Gardner Homeowner/Taxpayer, 30-year Gardner Business Owner, 30-year Gardner Lawyer, former 16-year Gardner City Councillor, former Gardner City Council President, and former Gardner City Solicitor and Head of the City of Gardner Law Department.

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January 21, 2022

On January 18, 2022 the Gardner City Council held its second Meeting of the year.

Did the Citizens notice the City Councillors’ seating arrangement?  From what we know, the new ordering has to do with experience.

The 11 City Councillors, of varying levels of experience, comprise the entire Legislative Branch of city government. 

Nothing is more critical to the operation of a Citizenry’s City Government than the make-up of its Legislative Branch.  This is not the Glee Club. It takes serious people – people not only who must have experience, but also talent, knowledge, wisdom, and, most of all, courage.

Each Councillor is on his/her own.  Each Councillor has no supervisor, and no superior. Each Councillor has one “boss” – the Citizenry. No other Councillor (not even all 10 of them), and no Mayor, can tell a City Councillor what to do, or what not to do.

I point this out to hit home the fact that the role of a City Councillor is supreme, both in governmental hierarchy and importance to the interests of the Citizenry.

The City Council is alone, and self-contained.

This is in direct contrast to the other branch – the Executive Branch. The Mayor runs that branch, and has several hundreds of city officials and employees (and the State Rep.) at his immediate and loyal dispensation (or the other way around, in some instances).

This would include about 30 or so Department Heads, an Executive/Professional Secretary, a Professional/Highly-Qualified Executive Aide, exclusive access to the highly-paid (and deferential) Law Department, and much, much more – including all the money, and all the resources.   

So who are these lonely 11 Councillors with our rights and interests and money in their hands?

Some of them have minimal abilities and/or experience – and very likely would not be qualified to manage a local fast-food, or a car parts, franchise – quite seriously.

Go and ask a local business owner this question: “how many of the City Councillors would you entrust to manage your business temporarily if you were in a coma?”

Socrates said it best: 

“No man undertakes a trade he has not learned . . . yet everyone thinks himself sufficiently qualified for the hardest of all trades – that of government.”

Some of our Councillors have vast abilities and experience, both. Some are in-between.  Do you know who they are?

Let’s get back to the City Councillors’ seating arrangement.

You’ll say, “what, who cares?”

GRAVITAS will be getting into the weeds sometimes. That’s often where the truth lurks.  It’s in the muck, and this, sometimes is muckraking.  Muckraking for the truth.  We are not above that.

But, whether we find truth or not – the Free Press serves as a deterrent to bad government behavior.

To use an analogy, take the case of the professional shoplifter who finds himself in a store located in a jurisdiction that actually prosecutes shoplifting.  He is not likely to shoplift at that store if it has real-time surveillance cameras all over the place, and a guard at the front door.

That watchfulness might only save a pack of gum from the rookie shoplifter or school kid. But, it prevents the professional thieves from choosing to shoplift at that store. This saves the store from all sorts of inconceivable thefts and muggings – which are never even attempted.

It’s deterrence.  Put another way, take GRAVITAS’ definition: “Deterrence. The effect of a babysitter’s presence upon the amount of mischief that would otherwise be committed by pre-teens when their parents are away.”

Back to the City Council seating arrangement.

President Kazinskas thought it was a good idea to rearrange the Councillor’s seats around the City Council Table.  The order of seats, apparently, now goes from least experienced to most experienced.

Why? This has never happened before. So, we presume this is for increased efficiency. We don’t know for sure because President Kazinskas decided not to tell the Citizenry (or the City Councillors) why she was doing it.

On its face, this seating arrangement makes no sense – other than to point out the age disparity between Councillors, and to put the younger people on the other side of the old people.

We have asked the Council President for her reasoning, if any.  There has been no response. We’ll follow up accordingly when she responds.

Before this new change in City Council seating, the City Council’s policy was very efficient and effective. It had nothing to do with how old you were.

Instead, it was a system based on (gasp) common sense. The Councillors who were fellow members of a particular Standing Committee sat next to each other around the City Council Table. 

This provided an easy practicality to the City Council’s legislative operations.  This is because each of those Committees work on their own assignments at their own Meetings. At some future City Council Meeting, one of the Members of a given Committee must provide that Committee’s report.

When the Committee Members are sitting right next to the one giving the report, this gives them the real-time ability to assist each other in the presentation of that Committee reporting him/her – whether it’s to converse quietly about something, or to share documents, to show information on a cell phone/tablet screen, to whisper to the Committee speaker something missed, etc. – all in real time. It was all for full disclosure (also known as “Open Government,” and accuracy).

That’s been eradicated by the President.  Apparently, it’s better to separate “younger” from “older.” If so, we don’t understand that reasoning.

GRAVITAS . . . .

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