John Skipper column: The process is working

2013-04-22T00:01:00Z 2014-10-20T14:46:59Z John Skipper column: The process is workingBy John Skipper Mason City Globe Gazette
April 22, 2013 12:01 am  • 

When Jean Marinos was mayor of Mason City about 10 years ago, she said one of the things she learned about government was that the process works.

The outcomes of government never receive 100 percent approval, but the process of getting from A to B, or, in some cases, from A to Z, works.

When government isn’t functioning as we think it should, it is often because the process has been bypassed.

It is a process of research, inclusion of stakeholders, debate, fairness, establishment of safeguards and, finally, a vote by those we have elected to represent us.

The evolution of the so-called disorderly premises ordinance is the latest example of the process working. The concept of the proposed ordinance, which will be up for a third and final vote next week, is that property owners will be held responsible for repeated violations that occur on their properties.

They will be given warnings and ample time to correct whatever problems are occurring. If they fail to comply they will be subject to fines or loss of permits or licenses, depending on the seriousness of the violations.

The research has involved studying similar ordinances in other cities and talking with officials in those cities to find out how well the ordinances are working.

Inclusion has involved countless meetings with police, city officials, lawyers and, most importantly, landlords and others directly affected, to get their ideas and input.

The result is a proposed ordinance that is different than what was first drawn up more than a year ago — because changes have been made along the way. In a sense, compromises have been made in order to make it as fair as possible and yet be as firm as possible.

Lyndon Johnson said the best compromise is one in which everyone has something to go home and brag about — and the disorderly premises ordinance is a good local example of that.

The safeguards occur because the city requires three readings of any ordinance before it can get final approval. That gives the public plenty of time to contact their council members, ask questions and express their views.

It also prevents the council from acting impulsively or committing a knee-jerk reaction to a problem.

When Marinos talked 10 years ago about the process working, she was referring to a neighborhood dispute that was resolved amicably because, as a result of the three-readings requirement, the council had a month to hear public reaction instead of acting immediately.

Tonight, at the suggestion of Marinos, the council will hold a town meeting at 7:30 p.m. in the Mason City Room of the library so the disorderly premises ordinance can be thoroughly explained. Citizens will be given the chance to comment and ask questions. There is still time for changes to be made before next week’s final vote.

Councilman Alex Kuhn has been the shepherd of the ordinance for more than a year and he is seeing it approach the finish line.

The process has worked.

Reach John Skipper at 421-0537 or

Copyright 2015 Mason City Globe Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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