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Hope Springs Eternal

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March 16, 2011 by wcobserver

It’s been a rough season and it may not be over yet but there are definite signs of rejuvenation.  We’re not talking here about daffodils. We’re referring to the West Fork City Government. After a hot contentious election last fall that saw a five vote victory by the new mayor and a bumpy start, the special meeting of the city council last week was a clear sign change is in the wind. The mayor and council seem to be serious about dealing with the monumental task of pulling West Fork back from the governmental chaos and decay that engulfs the town.

The tone and intensity of the special meeting to deal with the animal control problems was a surprise to some observers of city government. Many had expected a rather cut and dried meeting approving a contract for services with either Noah’s Ark or the City of Fayetteville. And it was expected that a few council members would make some generalized comments about a new ordinance adding the usual instructions to “Send it to the city attorney to draw up an ordinance,” with the unspoken understanding that it will probably never be enforced anyway.

The meeting didn’t unfold that way. The council rolled up their sleeves, put their shoulder to the wheel and worked. There was attention to detail. There was back and forth discussion.  There was thoughtfulness.  The city council is the legislative branch of city government and last Monday night they legislated.  “Democracy is messy,” was an overheard comment.

There was something a little different about the make-up of the group gathered around the horseshoe table. For one thing, the group consisted of a new mayor and three relatively new council members. Noticeably absent at the table was any unelected city employees.

More important than the people at the meeting was the appearance in public of the West Fork Municipal Code Book. As regular readers of our opinion page are aware, the Observer has harped on the need to operate the city based on the rule of law.  Elected officials come and go; employees are not accountable to the voters. It is the laws of the city that should be the basis of all action. When times change – change the law. And the changing should be done by the people who were elected to govern, not the “good ol’ boys.”

It’s a tough row to hoe and rocky road ahead but last week in West Fork the people were ruling.

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