Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

Getting More Involved

This evening, I went to my first-ever meeting of the Fernley city council. This was a special meeting to both officially certify the local election results (relatively routine and passed quickly), and to discuss whether to move forward with a request for legislation that would permit the city to impose a 5 cents/gallon diesel fuel tax to be earmarked for roads, even though the advisory question on the city ballot lost (by about one-third of one percent, or 23 votes).

The key procedural point here is that neither the advisory question nor council action would impose a diesel tax. All this was about was what was called a "Bill Draft Request" to the Nevada Legislative Council to act as a placeholder for requested legislation. It doesn't get legislation into the next session until and unless at least one member of the legislature adopts it, as our state assembly member, Robin Titus, explained when she spoke to the matter. And because of the legislative deadlines and Nevada's very short legislative session (90 days every two years), the council had to decide now whether to proceed or to walk away and wait another two years at least.

The city council, the mayor, the city manager, assembly member Titus, and the city's paid lobbyist in Carson City spent a long time talking about the proposal to submit the BDR even though the people of Fernley voted against it, albeit narrowly. Then it was time for the public hearing. Not many people had come to the meeting. I was the only one who stood up. I made sure my microphone light was on, the microphone was pointed correctly, that I could see my time clock (I used about 3:30 of my five minutes), and I spoke clearly and loudly. In short, I was trying to avoid the mistakes that I'd heard other speakers make. Besides, this isn't the first time I've done this sort of speaking. WSFS is my friend.

I quoted from the musical 1776 the line from Dr. Lyman Hall of Georgia, who paraphrased Edmund Burke of the British Parliament with the quote, "that a representative owes the People not only his industry, but his judgment, and he betrays them if he sacrifices it to their opinion." I told the council that they were elected the govern the city, and that if it takes submitting this BDR to get a seat at the negotiating table in the next legislative session, then they should do so.

When I stepped away from the microphone, I could swear that one of the council members applauded me. After the meeting, both the city manager and the lobbyist came up and thanked me. The council voted unanimously to submit the BDR. I think they would have done so anyway, but I hope that my speaking to them gave them heart that not everyone in Fernley is part of the "burn it all down, tear up my roads to gravel and dirt as long as I don't have to pay any taxes" crowd.

I'm so glad I have the experience of addressing, frankly, larger and possibly more hostile audiences as someone involved in the cut-and-thrust of WSFS politics. I hadn't prepared my remarks, but I think I made the points I wanted. I only wish that the live-streaming council sessions were recorded so I could go back and see and hear what I said.
Tags: fernley, government

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