Mar 062016
 

Baseball season is right around the corner, and each year the idea of adding a designated hitter to the National League becomes a topic of conversation. The American League uses a designated hitter, to hit in place of the pitcher, but the National League doesn’t, meaning National League pitchers have to hit.

Having been a pitcher myself while playing semi-pro ball back when dirt was new, I would not have been in favor of having designated hitters, not that I wanted to hit, but because the last thing I needed was to have to face another good hitter in the opposing team’s line up.

I always had aspirations of making the Big Show, but the further I moved along in semi-pro, the more often my pitches hit the hitters’ bats, resulting in some impressive long balls leaving the ball park in a rush. Too often I was in awe of watching a ball, that I had just pitched, sail over the light standards into the night.

I’m still not a fan of the designated hitter, however I am a fan for the designated resident at a city council meeting. It’s a simple concept to get more people involved in local government by having one resident selected to ask questions to council members during a meeting while they discuss agenda topics. It could be similar to a coach’s challenge in football, or asking for a replay in baseball. Questions would be limited. And council members would be allowed to avoid a question by asking for a 10 minute recess, which could increase the length of meetings by about two hours.

The details would have to be worked out, keeping the concept of simplicity in mind. A resident could be chosen by a lottery, or pick a name out of the mayor’s hat. The resident would be allowed to ask one question to a specific council member. Examples would be:

  • “Mr. Krummen, what do you mean by the word ‘significant’ regarding deficiencies in the city budget?”
  • “Councilwoman Gustin, did you bring that bottle of water from home, or get it out of the break room?”
  • “Councilman Coyne, are you really that calm all the time?”
  • “Councilwoman Obarski, why do you want to do the workshop in a meeting room, versus in council chambers?”
  • “Mayor Chirico, where do you get your shirts done?”
  • councilwoman Brodhead what exactly is the difference between a split infinitive and a dangling participle?”
  • “Councilman Gallaher, when the reporter knocked on your door on election night, were you pounding down a pepperoni or sausage pizza?”
  • “Councilman Hinterlong do you have any idea about what you are trying to say?
  • “Councilwoman Anderson, how much stuff have you really bought online to avoid paying city sales tax?”

There are so many questions residents would like to ask and have answered. Council members don’t ask each other any questions. They just vote (usually unanimously) and make comments without any type of challenge or clarification from other council members. It’s no wonder they can do a meeting in less than 45 minutes. Quick meetings are great, but when so much is left unasked or unanswered, residents are not getting their money’s worth .

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