Letter to the Editor: Hannibal City Council, mayor, city manager should leave personal feelings at door

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I have been present on and off for the last six months or so at Hannibal City Council meetings. I continue to be frustrated and disappointed at the lack of professionalism and what appears to be disgust on your part at anyone and everyone asking for transparency and accountability.

I have heard a few of our city’s councilmen express anger and frustration at the terms “transparency and accountability,” but I do not know what other terms to use when that is what is genuinely being asked for. Just because Councilman (Stephan) Franke used the phrase first does not mean it is a bad one.

At the last council meeting, I noticed multiple council persons, the city manager and the city attorney go out of their way to express exasperation when Ms. (April) Azotea and Mr. (Alan) Bowen were speaking. There was eye rolling, putting their heads in their hands and then resting their head on the table, picking hangnails while hands were covering their faces and refusing to make eye contact with Ms. Azotea and Mr. Bowen while they were addressing the panel.

I was not the only one to notice this. Numerous people have stopped me at work, the YMCA, my children’s sporting events or while I have been out walking to comment on the behavior they witnessed while watching either the YouTube recording or April’s livestream of the meeting. 

At the last meeting, multiple council people stated the suggestion of a monthly report is a good idea “but not at this time” or not now “because of ongoing litigation.” I have tried to look at this from every angle, and I can not understand how an ongoing impeachment process against Councilman Franke has anything to do with a monthly report from the city manager? The two should not be related.

We should have a monthly report from the city manager, no matter who holds that position, whether that be Ms. (Lisa) Peck or anyone else. This is not a personal request of her. It is a professional one. 

Monthly reports from department heads have been a common practice everywhere I have ever been employed. It is confusing to me why Ms. Peck would not want to update city constituents on ongoing projects and plans. Perhaps it could be looked at as a way to foster better communication between constituents and City Hall. 

To anyone who is paying attention, all of Councilman Franke’s and Councilman (Charles) Philips’ motions are being voted down, tabled or removed from the agenda. Is it simply because of the dislike and frustrations with Councilman Franke by other members of the council?

It has been suggested by Councilmen (Darrell) McCoy and (Mike) Dobson numerous times that it would be best to vote on city manager reports after the impeachment. My question is: What will be different then?

If Councilman Franke is removed from council after his impeachment hearing, why will that be a more appropriate time for our city manager to begin monthly reports? If Councilman Franke remains on council after his impeachment hearing, what will be different? Will it then be appropriate to vote on this? Or will votes on his motions continue to be in the negative or tabled until his term is up? 

It is time for all of council to act professionally and work together. If you believe their motions are not what is best for the City of Hannibal, then exercise your right to vote no. But to simply continue to ignore motions because of who is proposing them is both tiring and embarrassing for the citizens of Hannibal. Whether it be an investigation into the city clerk, exit interviews or monthly reports from the city manager, it is a pattern. Everyone can see it. 

Hannibal is where I was raised and where I, along with many others, have chosen to raise my children. I am thankful for the close-knit community my children are being raised in, and I am thankful we have diligent city employees who genuinely want what is best for our town and our children.

I am asking the Hannibal City Council to show the citizens of Hannibal that your desire for progress is a higher priority than your personal dislike for Councilman Franke. 

I deeply urge all of City Council, the mayor and the city manager to leave your personal feelings at the door and to conduct yourselves in professional and positive ways when representing our city. I look forward to seeing progress, respect and professionalism in future meetings. 

Amelia Johnson
Hannibal, Mo.

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