Levi, I do wish more people such as yourself would run for public office. Our country in general and our community in specific need people such as yourself to serve in that capacity. We may differ in our viewpoint and opinions, but that is what makes for good government, people who have strong convictions and are willing to stand by them, just as you've said. Not knowing you, maybe you've already done your time in elected office somewhere. If so, I offer my thanks for making that contribution. If not, please consider doing so. My time was decades ago, many states away from here.
Given that, here are my responses to your questions.
"What can he take out of this thread that would help him make a better decision? I recall a previous issue where Mr. Ronning said that he had heard from 5 or so people and was basing his vote on their feedback. He has basically said that he personally favors the raise but a few people that he has talked to do not so he may vote against his own feelings. Do you think that is a reasonable way to run the city?"
Getting feedback from his constituents and thought/opinions from this forum can help develop a greater viewpoint and potential insight into an issue. Voting against his personal feelings, of course that might happen. As an elected official it is my opinion that you MUST separate your personal feelings from the business at hand and look at the situation objectively, weighing the communities wants against the communities needs. Do I think that is a reasonable way to run the city? Absolutely. My opinion.
"If a councilman is abusing his office or using it for his own personal agenda, he should be either prosecuted or voted out of office depending on the severity of it. Nothing about asking for feedback from the community would keep him from doing that. If you talk to 10 people and 8 of them are for something and 2 are against, this is not evidence of the feelings of the city, and I would submit that most of the people in Miles City do not have the necessary information to make an informed opinion on this issue."
Informed or not, the people of the town still have the right to their opinion and the absolute right to have their voice heard, especially by their elected officials. Government of, by and for the people.
And regarding corrupted officials, don't look to close, it WILL disappoint you. Try prosecuting corrupt officials sometime, it's hard to do. When the corrupt control the environment, evidence is hard to get your hands on. Even when you do, who do you report it to, the state? They have little to no jurisdictional authority over municipal elected officials (except financial and judicial officers). Too few people are aware of what happens in the halls of government as it is, locally and beyond. As a result the same elected officials retain their positions, time after time, since the public in general PERCEIVES that those officials are doing the right things, rather than KNOWING what has actually been done. Perception becomes reality, and that reality then perpetuates the corruption. My opinion.
"This is the reason that we have a city council, because it is not practical or desirable for the population of the city to be involved in every day to day decision of the government."
If my memory is correct, Alberton has essentially a truly democratic form of city government; everyone can participates and everyone can vote. Is it practical here, no, I don't think so. The reason Miles City has the form of government they do is because some time ago the citizens here did not like the City Manager form of government where the city had a professional manager running the day to day business of the city. They voted for a Mayor/Commission form in order to have a greater voice in their government. Miles City holds an almost singular distinction in Montana municipal government as a community that changed from a one form of government and than later changed back to a form almost identical to what they had originally. The people here want their say in how their community is run. My opinion.
"Letting difficult decisions be made by a handful of uninformed citizens is not doing your job as councilman."
8 out of 10 voices is a better measure than what typically happens, no input at all, or worse, input from the local watering hole or coffee klatch where the opinions are driven by personal agendas. Sit in on council or commission meetings for sometime and watch how things operate here. I think you'll come away with a desire for more people like Leif serve, those who look for ways for their community to participate. My opinion.
I've digressed off the topic of this thread for far too long. I've said my piece and while I disagree with some of your viewpoints Levi, I hope that our discussion provides others a means to find their voice as well.
Leif, I think you know where I stand. More power to you. Please continue to keep us informed and look for our input.
[This message has been edited by Joe Smity (1/3/2011)]