Monday, July 18, 2011

ANGRY WORDS: City planner "lectures" retired city employee, neighborhood association

Confrontation becomes "rambling sermon " at Great Hangups meeting
COLUMBIA, 7/18/11  (Beat Byte) --  Silent for most of a 75-minute public meeting about the Great Hangups rezoning, City of Columbia development services manager Pat Zenner spoke up, taking issue with questions to city planner Steve MacIntyre.  Zenner then took the floor for nearly three minutes, scolding opponents and explaining city policy.   During what neighborhood residents and association members have called a "rambling sermon," Zenner is visibly upset, his voice shaking and almost breaking several times.  
PATRICK ZENNER:   "The elected officials took action on their own accord to waive fees, which they, as the elected officials of the city, have the right to do.  We are not in a position to waive requirements of our zoning ordinances.  
"Mr. MacIntyre will look into whether or not your protest petition is still valid.  If it is not, your recourses are either to get the protest petition filled out again, as un-convenient (sic) as that is for you.  That is one option.  The other is, you can contact Council -- all of them -- and find out if you can do a work around. 

"We are not here to take your action against Council on our shoulders.  We are the staff providing you with technical information associated with this case.  We do not make policy decisions.  We make recommendations for those who have to make policy decisions.  We follow the rules that have been handed down to us to follow. 
"Sarcasm in the meeting is not necessary.  Ask a question and move on.  Mr. MacIntyre said he would follow up with Miss [city clerk Sheela] Amin to find out what the rules are.  He suggested to you to do that. 
"It is not our responsibility to make your job any easier if you want to protest something.   We will work to try to make sure that your concerns are expressed, but we are not here to either self serve the applicant or the neighborhood.   We are here to answer your questions and prepare a report. 
"Now, if you want to keep on task so we can finish the meeting, ask your questions without the ad lib in it.   Then we move on and let you all go home and be able to discuss this in your neighborhood association meeting.  
"If you want to come protest the request, you're more than welcome to, but protest the requirements of what our ordinances say.  If Council wants to waive them, that's their prerogative -- it's not up to us.  Your behavior and your resentment of the process should not be directed at us."
COOKIE HAGAN:   "Sir, I don't believe I'm showing my anger to you at all.  I was talking to Steve MacIntyre, and Steve, if I in any way offended you I want to apologize.   But we do have concerns with regard to the way the applicant was treated and the way we're being treated and we brought that to Steve's attention.   I didn't see Steve being nearly upset as you, sir.  You are very upset and I apologize for your anger, but these meetings are for the public to address concerns on how our neighborhood is being treated."
ZENNER:   "State your concerns Ms. Hagan and move on and we will finish the meeting.  I am Steve's boss.   Therefore, I have the right to defend my staff if they're not going to for themself.   State your issue and let's move on to the next issue, please."


  1. Who elected Zenner King?

  2. Obviously an "it ain't my [our] fault, so don't get mad at me [us]" sort of response - this suggests who they SHOULD get mad at. OTOH why "schedule a meeting" about a subject over which nobody who is there has responsibility or authority? Cynicism may be appropriate, but likely sarcasm simply gives ammo to those who would wish to ignore valid complaints