To the editor:
I was raised in Florence and presently own a business that generates sales tax dollars for the city, so I try to attend as many council meetings as I can. I, among others, was quite vocal regarding the negotiations over the water contract this past year. During a council meeting last fall, I questioned the mayor and councilmen during community comments about their handling of the water contract.
At that time, all minutes were recorded. Neither councilmen nor the mayor stopped me from asking general questions. There was nothing out of hand during these comments. At the following meeting, the councilmen questioned the necessity of the minutes. The motion was made to remove six pages of minutes since they did not believe having the minutes was necessary. The mayor continued to say that he would explain everything after the negotiations were over and the contract was signed. After spending approximately $50,000 in attorney’s fees, the community still has not received an explanation.
They then changed the requirements for community comments, so I followed the new rules and presented pictures taken around town to ask what was being done to fix the concerns.
I received no response and the councilmen left the pictures on the table. Now, we no longer have community comments, unless we submit documentation the week prior for a paper trail. Councilman Williams was quoted “What I like about the form is that there’s documentation ... there’s now a copy that says you complained…” Yet, he and two other councilmen voted to remove prior minutes and not keep documentation I presented.
It appears that our city council is not working for the citizens of Florence but for their own agenda. Not only are they trying to quiet the community, but they are also putting themselves in positions that benefit them.
Most city governments, regardless of size, know it is not ethical to have a family member work for the city while their spouse is an elected official. Drawing a salary and benefits may not be illegal but it is an example of the type of unethical leadership we have at the helm of our community.
I hope the citizens of Florence will get out into the community and find new leadership to run for office this next year. We need leadership that wants to work with the community, hear our comments and make Florence a better place to visit and live.
Concerned Florence business owner
Last modified May 2, 2019