Wednesday, April 19, 2006

NEO Bridge site set up to battle ODOT's plans

The manner in which the Ohio Department of Transportation has been approaching the Inner Belt Bridge Project has caused critics to create a website,, to campaign against what they see as violations of state-mandated procedures for public input.

[This has nothing to do with this bridge, ODOT or even Ohio, but this all makes me recall a time in the mid-Seventies when I served on the Pima County Animal Control Center Advisory Committee, representing the SPCA of Arizona. We'd been charged by the County Board of Supervisors to be the official body gathering citizen input on a proposed new animal licensing ordinance and were to conduct the mandated public hearing on the subject. We sat in the Supervisors' chambers for two and a half hours one evening, listing to citizens come up to the microphone and give their opinions -- often strenuously -- on the subject, pro and con. Immediately following the close of the hearings, we retired to a back room and the deputy county administrator distributed forms for us to sign, verifying our recommendation that the legislation move forward. Until I objected, the rest of the advisory board was perfectly willing to sign off on it without so much as five minutes of discussion about the 2 1/2 hours of testimony we'd just heard. I don't think I had a disagreement with the legislation to speak of, but the manner in which the County was proceeding certainly made the time and efforts of the citizens attending the hearing a total waste of their time. ODOT shouldn't be hung for something that happened in Tucson, Arizona, thirty years ago, but that experience has made me somewhat cynical about "public input" opportunities ever since and I think it behooves all government agencies to avoid even the appearance of solely pro-forma citizen input.]