Process isn’t playing out in an ideal manner

Fairmont City Council this week got involved in a bit of a mess, related to its airport advisory commission. That group, in a 3-1 vote, approved hiring a new engineering firm – TKDA of St. Paul – to act as consultant on airport matters. But then, apparently, some airport commissioners had changes of heart and spoke privately with city leaders about it.

So the council this week voted to have the commission actually sit down and interview representatives of TKDA and Bolton & Menk, a firm with a local office that has served the city for the past 15 years.

In the end, we want to see the city satisfied with the choice it makes, and we want the advice it gets from its consultant to be the best. But the way the process has proceeded isn’t ideal.

Airport advisory board members should not be wavering about decisions on which they cast votes. They should be comfortable enough when they make those votes to be able to live with them. In other words, if they have qualms about a decision, they should speak up and get their questions answered prior to voting. If board members feel city staff is perhaps being too forceful – suggesting interviews were not necessary in this case – then board members need to be more forceful. We, the people, are the ultimate power in our society. Citizens serving on councils, commissions and advisory boards should always listen to staff expertise, but should not feel compelled to just ratify it.