Western Report: Galena City Council should listen to the people

OK, if you are from this area, then you know about the weather here. And you also know there is truth to the statement, “If you don’t like the weather here, just wait a minute, and it will change.”

Well, the same statement can be said about the Galena City Council. “If you don’t like an ordinance they write, just wait a bit, they will change it.” That was again proven at the April 24 Galena City Council meeting.

An ordinance changed last year to increase the allowable size of trolleys that could travel the city’s neighborhood streets giving historic tours was changed back after residents opposed to the larger trolleys presented their opinions to the council.

While there is a very good argument against these large trolleys, the council seems to change ordinances much too easily…and much too often. This first year of this council seems to be marked with hasty decisions when it comes to ordinances.

In addition to the trolley ordinance, they issued the “Tree Police” ordinance, making it illegal to cut any tree on your own property without permission. They rescinded that one about a month later, citing resident reaction… ya’ think?

Then there is the “Bed & Breakfast” ordinance that was changed to clarify what a small inn is and where it can be operated. But, after opposition from the B&Bs fearing new competition downtown, the council sent it back to committee to change it back.

At the last meeting, the mayor said he made a mistake last year by voting for Galena State Bank to be the depository for city funds because he didn’t know it was for five years, so he said, “maybe we can re-vote and take bids from other banks.”

While this may look like this is a council responding to public opinion, it would save the taxpayers a heck of a lot of money if the council just made sure to listen to the residents before they make an ordinance. That is how you listen to public opinion. This council has to understand they cannot play to whoever has their ear at the time.

John Huschik is a free-lance writer from Galena and covers the Jo Daviess County political scene.

From the May 3-9, 2006, issue

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