6 Replies to “Open letter to Edmonds Mayor: Let’s reverse trend of ‘incivility’ at meetings”

  1. Thank you Joan for your commentary. I believe the incivility extends even beyond the Mayor. This incivility starts during campaigning when local citizens allow their candidates to personally attack their opposition instead of discussing their differences on the issues. Why would you think that the behavior would change once the person was in office?


  2. Yes, obviously the incivility extends beyond the Mayor. But the Mayor and Council’s position affords them power to change the tone of our discourse, power which the individual citizen does not have.

    As for candidates for office, each of you is responsible for your own behavior. How a candidate treats their opponent and the quality of their stand on the issues is of prime importance to me.


  3. This post is in response to Joan Bloom’s open letter to Mayor Haakenson. I was quite shocked to witness the rudeness shown by a member of the Edmonds Planning Board towards Joan Bloom at a Port of Edmonds public meeting on Monday, November 16. The Planning Board member’s behavior was, in my opinion, aggressive and threatening. The gentleman raised his voice, became apoplectic, and turned beet red. I was afraid that he was on the verge of having a coronary. Needless to say, Joan was unable to complete her question due to the irrational behavior of the board member. The moderator of the meeting, who is supposed to ensure that people remain civil and “on-track”, did nothing to intervene in the situation. I told Joan, afterwards, that I had witnessed that type of behavior only on TV when the evening news would show snippets of extreme right-wingers behaving rudely at town hall meetings. It was amazing to see this first hand.

    What irks me is the establishment’s tenacious defense of their “vision” for the downtown and waterfront properties. For example, several citizen observers attended a Planning Board working session on August 19 to hear the discussion about economic and environmental sustainability. During the course of that meeting, the planning board chair griped that “certain citizens want to see a [adjective intentionally deleted] park on the Old Safeway Place.” At that point, we left the meeting in disgust.

    I strongly urge the city council and the planning board develop a “code of conduct”. While my children attended St. John’s School in Seattle, I was an officer of the St. John’s Athletics Association. We had a “code of conduct” that governed how team members behave towards a) each other, b) players on the opposing team, and c) referees. Each team parent was responsible for reading that “code of conduct” to each team at the beginning of each sports season.

    On a personal level, I am saddened to see my friend Joan being treated so badly. Also, repeated exhibitions of uncivil behavior causes citizens to stay away from public meetings. And we all lose when the level of public participation in civic life declines.


  4. So why is it OK for citizens to berate and insult elected officials and volunteers every week but not acceptable for them to bite back?


  5. Why is it okay for elected officials to bite back? Are they not professional enough, intelligent enough and knowledgeable enough about the topic at hand to be able to handle emotional situations that arise? In this case, we are discussing a member of the Planning Board, someone who would definitely expect to work with emotionality from citizens.

    Was this citizen – Joan’s comment even emotional? I wasn’t there to say, but I am here to say that the moderator of the meeting has a duty to do what the title claims – that is to moderate. A moderator is a neutral party, a mediator, one who is there to keep disputes from getting out of control. If this moderator did not remain visibly neutral (as we all know that no one is completely so), then shame on him. Behavior such as this will ultimately leave Edmonds citizens feeling bullied by the very people they place in positions to encourage growth.


  6. It seems to me this debate falls down to two lines of reasoning: rights and obligations. We all have the right to voice our opinion, to ask our questions, to provide answers, to attend public meetings, and to do our business without fear of irrational and emotional outbursts. We even have the right to feel angry. However, if we all acted based on what our rights were, our society would rapidly crumble. To have an orderly society, the exercise of our rights is tempered by our obligations.

    We are obligated to communicate our ideas, our questions, our answers, our frustrations, and our disappointment, in such a manner as to elevate the debate. If all parties fulfill their obligations to each other, then they will see that their rights will be duly observed. The adage of, “seek first to understand, THEN to be understood”, captures this well.

    The original article’s plea for “Civility” is perfectly apt, as Civility implies the manners required for functioning within a Civilization. Whether we like it or not, we are all on the same team. We all are concerned about the future of Edmonds, and these discussions are stressful, as we worry about what COULD happen. Hey, some people still think there will be high rise casinos at the old Safeway property – that would give me plenty of stress.

    I concur with the author – and add to her concerns (based on Michael’s comment), that all of us on Team Edmonds, not just the politicians, should strive for the highest levels of civility, in every dealing. Life is stressful enough as it is.


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