REGISTER VIEWPOINT: We want the door open, that's why

Democracy in action, every other Monday in commission chambers at Sandusky city hall. Sort of. We&rsqu
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

Democracy in action, every other Monday in commission chambers at Sandusky city hall.

Sort of.

We’re grateful to see more and more residents participating at the regularly scheduled public meetings of the Sandusky city commission. Residents interact with commissioners more than ever before, in recent years, but it’s not because commissioners debate important issues. Quite the opposite, in fact.

We surmise the higher level of resident activity is the direct result of all the closed-door meetings ex-officio mayor Craig Stahl insists upon, and the dissatisfaction with the results that come from secret deliberations. Commission has driven down a blind path for far too long, blocking out residents from the true decision-making process of local government. Instead, commission hides the true agenda and serves up announcements.

The result is a government that rewards mediocrity and quashes candor and integrity.

The result is a housing scandal that could cost the city up to $1 million in cold hard cash, and has already cost up to another $1 million or more in the lost opportunity to use federal tax money to improve and repair older homes. That federal money appears to have been stolen by shady contractors working in partnership with at least one bad city employee.

The result is a million-dollar civil service hearing on a matter that should have been resolved professionally and efficiently. And attorneys line up from all parts of Ohio to belly up to the Sandusky taxpayer bank and get their glutton’s share of our tax dollars.

Stahl does not even attempt to hide the secrecy by which he leads this government. In fact, he seems to revel in it.

From his secret city budget that only some commissioners get to see to hidden deals on hidden agendas, Stahl is quickly wearing out his welcome at city hall with a good many of the residents who attend commission meetings.

Citizens make the best watchdogs a government could have. One of those residents, in a recent letter to the editor, put the blame for our dysfunctional government squarely on Stahl:

“It’s time to lead or step down so another can do the job,” he wrote in the letter.

We agree.