A Letter to the Editor — Bully Pulpit?

A Letter to the Editor -- Bully Pulpit?

What is a Bully Pulpit?

Regarding Citizen Input at Council meetings:

Definition of bully pulpit (Websters):

A prominent public position (such as a political office) that provides an opportunity for expounding one’s views.

  • It appears to many that some Cape Coral Council members have shortened the definition to “BULLY
  • Have you ever watched public input at a council meeting? If not, please do so at least once!

EACH AGENDA STARTS WITH THE PLEDGE by Council

PLEDGE OF CIVILITY: We will be respectful of each other even when we disagree. We will direct all comments to the issues. We will avoid personal attacks.

If you speak at a council meeting, be aware:

A Letter to the Editor -- Bully Pulpit?
  • Don’t mention a council member by name. You will get the gavel and maybe a threat to be removed. They say they are a body and ask us to speak to the body.
  • When I have voted, I don’t ever recall “body “being on the ballot as a candidates’ name to pick. Fact of the matter is that it is a protection for them. They have safety in numbers.
  • While campaigning, they were begging to speak all over the city and to ask for funding from us.
  • Elect them and the rules change.

By avoiding direct questions on an issue in their district, they won’t be embarrassed if they don’t know the answer. These rules are also designed so they can skip over any hot button issues and always get the last word if they elect to address a comment from public input.

When Public input is done, it is their time to respond if they choose to do so.

If you choose to have an opinion on a subject that is different than the mayor, be very thick-skinned, especially if others have previously spoke on the same issue previously.

Example: During Council comments at a recent meeting, China was brought up by several speakers. After Citizen Input, the Mayor stated that people against China are Isolationists. This term normally refers to national government positions, not people speaking against a communist country.

A Letter to the Editor -- Bully Pulpit?

Definition of isolationism from Webster’s: a policy of national isolation by abstention from alliances and other international political and economic relations.

What I observed was residents asking council not to get involved with a communist country.

Most often you get no reply to your question or concerns. If you do get a reply, never address them when they are speaking to you, regardless of what’s being said; they have the last say. Unless, of course, you are part of their “club”, then feel free as the rules change for their club members.

I have spoken at Council Meetings more times than I care to recall. It normally leaves one frustrated. I find the process in Cape Coral to be rather draconian. These rules do not to exist for Council Members. The Cape Coral Council should seriously consider updating its rules.

Suggested Changes:

  1. Allow questions to be directed to an individual. After all, that’s how we elected them.
  2. Don’t have an answer? Call up staff to address or, at a minimum, ask staff to set up a meeting with the resident.
  3. Have “citizen’s input” after each item on the agenda. Don’t wait and let issues and ideas get tangled up with each subject.
  4. Council removed one monthly meeting. Put it back, which will allow each meeting to have fewer items on the agenda.

Sincerely, Cape Coral resident John Karcher

Editor’s Note: The opinions, beliefs, and viewpoints expressed by the named authors of any editorials on this website do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs, and viewpoints of 239Style Media Group or CapeStyle Magazine.