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December 17, 2014


"Smith came to the CAN-DO meeting HOPING to say something. But the chair of the meeting never called on her, allowing only one person other than Vu and the board members to speak...If I'd [Brian Hines] GOTTEN to say something at last night's meeting, which I'd HOPED to do" (Emphasis added.)

Interested citizens had the opportunity to offer remarks during the "Interested Citizens" segment of the agenda, and to ask questions following Mr. Vu's presentation. Neither I, as secretary, nor the Chair saw or heard any indication from Smith or Hines that they wished to be heard, nor did either object when the Chair stated the need to move on to the next presentation. To be clear: no action was before the board that night, and no board action respecting parking is pending. Ms. Smith has twice in recent months spoken to the board on the parking situation, once during the "Interested Citizens" segment of the meeting, and again when she made a lengthy presentation on the subject, including her version of its history and handouts.

The board appreciated Mr. Vu's willingness to come to the meeting and share his understanding of the the situation as far as the downtown businesses are concerned. Following his presentation, he asked specifically to know the board's understanding of the situation as far as downtown residents are concerned, but we had to tell him we've so far been unable to identify very many downtown residents, much less entice them to attend our meetings or otherwise communicate their views about parking through NextDoor, Facebook, or private email.

For the record, Ms. Smith is a resident and former Chair of CANDO, Mr. Hines is not a CANDO resident.

Sarah Owens

Sarah, here's some corrections to your recollection of the meeting.

(1) Carole Smith invited me to come to the CAN-DO meeting. I also saw a notice about it on the Breakfast on Bikes blog. I assumed non-residents of the area are welcome at public meetings of neighborhood associations. If I'm mistaken about this, please correct me.

(2) I didn't ask to speak at the beginning of the meeting because I hadn't heard Jim Vu yet, obviously. I wanted to respond to his remarks.

(3) When the Jim Vu agenda item came up (allotted for 20 minutes), the chair first asked for questions/comments from CAN-DO board members. There were quite a few of these. Vu gave rather lengthy answers. In some cases, very lengthy.

(4) Finally the chair asked for questions/comments from the public. Instantly one guy's hand shot up. He was a newcomer to Salem, having been here two weeks. He made some remarks. After him, the chair said that the 20 minutes was up, the board needed to move on to stick to the agenda schedule, and there wouldn't be any more questions for Vu.

(5) Neither Carole nor I were inclined to make a fuss about this. Hey, this is CAN-DO's meeting. You guys can run it like you want to.

That said, I'm the secretary of our neighborhood group in rural south Salem. We always make sure that everyone who comes to a meeting gets to have their say. I drove 25 minutes each way to come to the CAN-DO meeting, so I sort of assumed that CAN-DO would give me the same courtesy.

However, it was obvious that your group didn't care about hearing comments/questions from anyone other than board members and the one person whose comment/question fit into the 20 minute time slot. You should rethink your policy in this regard. Is CAN-DO a place that welcomes everybody who cares about downtown, or just the "in crowd"?

Lastly, Carole and I left the meeting after the chair said the Jim Vu portion of the meeting was over. We talked for a while outside, in part about what we would have liked to have said, if we'd been allowed to say it.

While we were standing there, a CAN-DO board member came out and said the meeting was over. It actually had taken less time than expected. So more time could have been used for comments/questions about downtown parking.

Again, CAN-DO should think about whether it is more important to rigidly stick to the planned time limit for an agenda item, or whether people who have come to a meeting (in my case, from almost half an hour away) should have a few minutes to share their views about an agenda item.

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