This past week I heard a TV reporter out of Baltimore asking some local folks “What do you think the St. Michaels town commissioners are afraid of?” I didn’t think much of her question at the time it was asked, wondering what reason the commissioners would have to fear anything. After the most events I think I was wrong…it now seems that the cosm may actually be afraid of almost EVERYTHING and almost EVERYONE”.
During their September 7th meeting a couple of commissioners could hardly wait for a question to be finished before they answered it and sometimes they tried to simultaneously bombard a questioner with answers that did not always match the question. We even learned that, according to one commissioner, she wasn’t a member of the KKK.
But, within two short weeks, everything changed dramatically. While tossing transparency on the trash heap, the commissioners announced a whole new direction in what could be described as the closing of open government. A constant contact notification was sent out announcing two new classes of residents in St. Michaels, those who would be allowed to ask questions at a town meeting and those who could only view and listen to the meeting but not take part by making comments or asking questions. The notification came mid-day on a Tuesday before the scheduled Wednesday meeting announcing that the zoom meeting attendees would no longer be able to fully participate in the meetings. It also announced that those attending the meeting in the town office, where very limited seating is available, will be able to ask their questions and make their comments. It went further to say that those attending the zoom version of the meeting would have their audience audio and chat features disabled so they would not even be able to type in their comments or questions. (These guys are putting those voter suppressing folks in Texas to shame!).
A little more than 8 hours later a second notification hit emails all over town. All those zoom orphans who had been relegated to the cheap seats were once again to be both seen and heard….but, as it turned out, NOT ANSWERED! While the commissioners seem to have returned folks ability to ask questions, they reverted to their old tactic of not answering them. These guys just don’t seem to be able to do two things at one time. Their inability resulted in more than a dozen questions asked by members of the public that went unanswered.
The government of St. Michaels is obviously in trouble and just as obviously broken. They can not be relied on to take public input that includes the whole town and to make good decisions. They talk about transparency but fail to practice it. Being truthful seems to be a foreign value to some of the commissioners and being accountable seems nonexistent…but the town is so much more than it’s government…keep the faith and keep demanding open and honest government!