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Agenda 2013 - Three Cheers for Mr. Nick

How refreshing to find a council member who thinks he's a representative of the people

Last week I complained about the ghosts of councils past visiting the new city council. Specifically, the re-appearance of voting for programs for special interests (i.e., people and businesses who gave money to council members’ re-election committees), distorting the truth, and poor decision making concerned me. But there was one thing at the new council meeting that did impress me and it deserves as much attention as those old nasty ghosts.

In his long explanation of why he was voting not to repeal the ban on sex offenders in parks, new Council member Adam Nick talked about the informal survey he took. He claimed to have asked nearly 300 people what their opinion was about the ban, and the vast majority of them were in favor of the ban. Nick explained that with so many people of the same mind, his role as a representative of the people prompted him to vote to keep the ban.

Holy smokes.

Here is a council member who

a. Thinks he’s a representative of the people
b. Actually goes out of his way to ask people what they think
c. Tries to vote as a representative of the people

All I can say is – Three Cheers for Mr. Nick

What a refreshing change from the old Imperial council, a council who did whatever THEY wanted to do, regardless of public opinion, which they almost never bothered to assess, and on those few occasions in which the public gave their unsolicited opinion, the Council managed to ignore it and sometimes to do exactly the opposite of what people were asking them to do.

Of course public opinion should not be the only factor in decision making. Often the public does not have all the facts. Often the public can be swayed by ephemeral issues. The best government is a government where intelligent leaders gather facts, engage the public, and make good long term decisions. Public opinion is only one factor, BUT it is a factor, and how memorable it was to find it played so important a role in Nick’s decision making process.

(Note to Adam Nick: you’re on the right track, but I’m not sure that your personal polling efforts are what most people would consider a valid measure of public opinion. Let me suggest you work with the staff and create a public opinion assessment mechanism for the City’s website where major issues can be discussed.

Also, I’m not sure that voting to keep a ban on sex offenders using parks was the right move to make (a) in the light of so many opinions that the ban was unconstitutional, (b) that continuing the ban was going to be very expensive and ultimately fruitless, (c) that to date no one could show any benefits from the year-long ban, (d) the evidence that most sex offenders are not child molesters, and (e) the fact that child abductions from parks are so rare. But, laying aside the wisdom of the decision itself, how refreshing it was to see someone on the council paying attention to public opinion).


Bottom line – Thank you Councilman Nick for showing us that while the council may still be haunted by the nasty ghosts of councils past, there is some new blood flowing through the City’s veins.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

JustUs January 04, 2013 at 06:02 PM
Once again, Jim, you're missing the larger point. Adam Nick did his own personal survey to gather the public opinion - which even you claimed was flawed. You said that you had expertise in organizing surveys and that the methods Nick used to organize his survey was flawed, correct???? So what good is public opinion if most of those I survey tell me what I want to hear? So If I wanted to claim that I listened to the people all I have to do is go find a bunch of my like-minded buddies, ask them a question and then listen to their response then from it claim I know what the people want? Balderdash. Why didn't Nick explain how he developed this survey? If it's so valid - why not publish it? And how were the questions formed? Was a dollar figure thrown out? The City spent $2M on the medical marijuana dispensaries legal battle. So did Nick ask his opinion makers whether it worth be worth it to fight a sex offender park ban that has already been deemed unconsitutional by local courts and spend up to $2M to do so? So what is the cutoff spending amount? Those are OUR TAXDOLLARS!!! Your opinion is very strange when you watch the other pennies that the Council spends so closely. Very strange. Personally, I don't fall for political trickery. Not anymore.
Jim Gardner January 04, 2013 at 06:24 PM
Hi JustUs, With all due respect, I think it's you who miss the larger point. You can teach anyone how to do a good survey, or you can hire a survey group to do it for you. What it is so very difficult to do is to change how a person thinks. How can you get someone to value public opinion? How do you get someone to think of themself as a servant of the people, rather than being self-serving? Nick has told us that he thinks of himself as a representative of the people and that he values public opinion. If he is being honest (and why should we assume he isn't - after all, he's the only city council member who hasn't been stuffing his campaign coffers with money from special interest groups), then going forward we can hold him to this high standard. We agree that the specific decision in this case was flawed, but I think the process is more important. The stumbling point is how to get a valid sample of public opinion on relevant issues. I agree that we don't want Nick (or anyone else) getting a sample of opinion from their sycophants and then using that as an excuse to make bad decisions. We've had enough of that with the council voting to build more houses because the developers think it's a good idea. Ideally the City could set up such a mechanism on their website, but I don't think that will happen. Perhaps The Patch could develop a system like this. It would be invaluable. I will inquire.
JustUs January 04, 2013 at 06:37 PM
"What it is so very difficult to do is to change how a person thinks." You're still not getting it, Jim. You don't have to CHANGE how a person THINKS. You just ask a question to people who will give you the answer that you want. Why didn't Mr. Nick ask the general public to attend his get together for their opinions on this matter? I was never invited. I would have given Nick and earful. Trust me on that. I do NOT want my taxdollar through into a black hole. And it surprises the heck out of me that you're defending this! I'm sorry! "Nick has told us that he thinks of himself as a representative of the people and that he values public opinion." Come on! All polticians say this!!! heh. Snap out of it!!! Again, when you ask a select and isolated group of invitees a question it's easy to get the answer you want!!! Why can't you figure this out??? " he's the only city council member who hasn't been stuffing his campaign coffers with money from special interest groups), then going forward we can hold him to this high standard" Go back and read all your critical written comments on Nick when you were his opponent. You seem to have a short memory. Listen, you are either a 'fiscal conservative' or you are not, Jim. Please don't cross the line of applauding a guy who was intent on spending our taxdollars on more futile lawsuits on a legal matter already declared 'unconstitutional' by local courts. Just stop it!!!
Gimli January 04, 2013 at 07:37 PM
What might the result an informal gas station survey have been in Mississippi in 1963 if nearly 300 people were asked if black kids should be allowed to go to the local school? African American citizens sit anywhere on the bus?
JustUs January 04, 2013 at 08:01 PM
Very good point, Gimli. I guess sexual offenders who have completed all their judicial punishments and legal requirements (off probation and parole) are today's modern black kids. But we always have to have kicking posts in our society. That's the American way. Btw, I am not and have never been a sexual offender - in fact, I have never been arrested for anything before. So before I get accused of it I want to deliver that statement. I simply love my US Constitution more than I hate sexual pedophiles or true sexual offenders who have harmed another person.
Gimli January 04, 2013 at 08:55 PM
@JustUs - to say that RSOs are today's modern black kids most certainly is apples and oranges. My point was that history teaches us what the people want is not necessarily what is right. Ask the people in Germany what they thought of Hitler until things went south for them and theirs. Mother taught me that real freedom is always someone else's freedom. It is easy to be for something when I am the beneficiary. Like you I will always stand up for the Constitution and freedom, even at the expense of my own comfort. Like Mr. Nick I have sworn to defend the Constitution against enemies foreign and domestic. Unlike Mr. Nick I have not yet broken that vow.
Jim Gardner January 04, 2013 at 09:04 PM
Hi Gimli, Yes, sometimes public opinion is not to be trusted, as I indicated in my article when I said - "Of course public opinion should not be the only factor in decision making..." and you've given us a perfect example of why public opinion is not the sine qua non of decision making. The point I was trying to make, apparently without success, is that we finally have a person on the council who thinks of himself as a representative of the people, who goes out of his way to solicit public opinion, and then votes with this as a consideration. I found that remarkable. You can question the method he used and you can question the decision he made, but I am impressed by the process and hope in the future he continues to follow the process, substituting good methods and better decision making.
JustUs January 04, 2013 at 09:05 PM
"@JustUs - to say that RSOs are today's modern black kids most certainly is apples and oranges. My point was that history teaches us what the people want is not necessarily what is right." Thank you for your prompt response. To a guy who loves the US Constitution and who loved the American way of life in my younger years, I take issue with what you said. Even RSO's have constitutional rights. When I was a young boy it was drilled into my head that even a man convicted of a crime has the opportunity in America to get a fresh start after he has paid his legal dues and obligations to society as set forth by our justice system. I am NOT going to turn my back on that concept now. Sorry. So I see some definite parallels between the black kids of the 40's and 50's the the RSO's today - not in character - but in the way they are being treated by our system. That is my logical conclusion here. "Mother taught me that real freedom is always someone else's freedom. It is easy to be for something when I am the beneficiary." Your mother was a VERY smart woman. Was she or her parents raised in Nazi Germany, by chance? It takes one who has had their freedoms confiscated to understand the value of them. As Kris Kristofferson's old song goes "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose" in his song "Me and Bobby McGee". So much truth. God bless you, Gimli (and your mom).
JustUs January 04, 2013 at 09:21 PM
"The point I was trying to make, apparently without success, is that we finally have a person on the council who thinks of himself as a representative of the people, who goes out of his way to solicit public opinion, and then votes with this as a consideration." Jim, when he invites the GENERAL PUBLIC AND ME to one of his opinion gathering event then I will believe you. Until then I simply can't accept your premise. The political trickery is simply TOO THICK in today's society. No longer am I going to swallow the bait. Sorry.
Gimli January 04, 2013 at 09:23 PM
@Jim Gardner 1:04pm - it would appear that we now have a person on the council - who pontificates for close to half an hour only to come to the conclusion that he does not have an opinion. - Who consciously violated the Constitution that he was sworn to uphold (he so stated) - remember, at the time and to this point the the ordinance was and is ruled unconstitutional. - Who does not understand the issues as he was attempting a motion to modify the ordinance to the VERY version that was ruled unconstitutional the week prior. - Who claims to watch the city budget like a hawk but has not problem exposing the city to frivolous law suits because it makes him look like a tough (okay, sensitive but tough) guy. We elect politicians to make decisions based on the belief that they will educate themselves and make decisions based on their BELIEF System with an eye on what is good for constituents. If that is the case - EPIC FAIL. Boo-Hiss for Mr. Nick. Three of them. Oh, and I want my half hour back! I thought I was watching a Castro speech! At least Fidel has the cajones to take a stand.
JustUs January 04, 2013 at 09:29 PM
"Oh, and I want my half hour back! I thought I was watching a Castro speech! At least Fidel has the cajones to take a stand" You are a deep thinker and intelligent, Gimli. I applaud you. You won't be fooled. There are VERY few like you out there. Thank your mom (and dad?). They did a wonderful job raising you to think deeply and independently. I have no idea what's going on with Jim on this topic. It's like he's a completely different person opining on this subject matter.
Gimli January 04, 2013 at 09:40 PM
I agree with your last statement. @Jim Gardner - I have found your contributions in the past to be thoughtful, critical and constructive. The first part of this blog post seems like it was authored by your "evil twin".
JustUs January 04, 2013 at 10:04 PM
"The first part of this blog post seems like it was authored by your "evil twin". What I said was TRUE and I explained why it was TRUE. It seems that you have a problem with the TRUTH sometimes too! But you do bring up some good points for which I commend you.
Jim Gardner January 04, 2013 at 11:56 PM
Hi Gimli, I agree with you on Nick's talk. Robinson too. Mayor McCullough let them drone on and as you saw, people started to leave. There should be a limit on council members' comments just as there is on public comments. McCullough herself is known to drone on from time to time, so I guess she felt she could hardly stop them given her own behavior. I also agree with you and JustUs in terms of the decision. The council never should have approved the ban in the first place and it was appropriate for them to repeal it. I don't agree with Robinson and Nick on this issue. But I repeat that I found it refreshing for a sitting council member to say that he is a representative of the people, to take the time to do a survey (flawed though it was), and base his vote on public opinion (even while I disagree with him). In response to my tete-a-tete with JustUs I have already asked The Patch to set up a valid way to measure public opinion on issues like this, and I volunteered to help them get it started. At the end of the day we don't want to be ruled buy public opinion, but I think educating the public and getting their feedback is an important part of the democratic process.
JustUs January 05, 2013 at 12:35 AM
Based upon my observations I have formed the opinion that Adam Nick is a very controlling politician who loves the limelight and to be center stage. I watched him closely during the Candidate's Forum. He put the moderators in a very uncomfortable position by refusing to comply with their instructions. He went on and on about subject matter that was not related to the questions asked. He appeared very defiant. And when I watched him at this last meeting he went on and on...as Gimli said "close to half an hour only to come to the conclusion that he does not have an opinion." These long diatribes and seem to be a pattern. And they make me uncomfortable. And Nick claimed to be sworn to our US Constitution yet defied the message and wisdom of our lower courts that ruled the park ban to be unconstitutional by voting to fight the RSO lawsuits with city taxdollars. Mom and Dad taught me the 'stink test' as a young boy. They told me if something doesn't smell right, to examine it carefully visually. If it doesn't make any good sense - toss it out. IMO there is a terrible disconnect here between Nick's words and actions. I would do my parents a huge disfavor by ignoring my gut instinct here. I will watch him closely on the political stage. If this behavior continues he will lose all my trust. I hope those close to him are giving him honest feedback. Sorry. I must provide my opinion on this matter.
Jim Gardner January 05, 2013 at 12:47 AM
Hi again, I agree. We need to watch them all closely and be sure that they give us the type of government we want. Thanks to you and several other people and to The Patch, local government has never been under such scrutiny. I think this is a good thing.
JustUs January 05, 2013 at 04:29 AM
And I second your thanks to The Patch, Jim. I love the local coverage - although it's not quite as thorough as I would like. But the freedom of expression and speech is wonderful. It's truly a blessing. And I get down on my hands and knees in gratitude to be able to participate. It truly is the American way. When they take that away from us we are in deep, deep trouble. The politicians need to know that we have them under a microscope. If they do their jobs right, tell the truth and act in the interest of our citizens - they have nothing to worry about. But if we catch them in lies and false promises, they will have hell to pay. Being a Councilman is not being a 'King'. It is being a representative who is supposed to protect our interests. I think some on the board might think they're 'Kings' because they had the money to buy a seat. I am here to tell them that such an attitude is destined to fail. Accountability, humility, integrity, service w/o expecting personal paybacks and sacrifice are the keys to holding elected office. I could count on one hand the politicians I recall in a lifetime who upheld these standards.

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