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Should nonresidents be banned from IC City Council panels?

BY DI EDITORIAL STAFF | OCTOBER 21, 2011 7:20 AM

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Yes

So the prime minister of England decides to come over to the United States and run for president. It sounds like the beginning of a bad joke because, well, it is one.

But there are a lot of people with British accents in the United States. And a lot of white people with silly hair and bad teeth.

Yeah, I'm going to cite our Constitution, which doesn't allow foreign politicians bent on padding their résumés to run for our highest executive position because, well, they don't have the ideas of the country in mind. Arnold Schwarzenegger can't run for president. Tip of the hat to the Founders.

So a resident of Burlington decides to come over to Iowa City and wants to be on a City Council panel.

See what I'm getting at?

It doesn't make sense. You should have stake in the area you represent, because if you don't, then you can't represent it properly.

You'll probably end up backing a tax cut for business because your parents back home want to buy a hotel in your drinking town. You know, conflict-of-interest types of things.

The registered voters in Iowa City chose their city councilors to represent their best interests. They owe everyone in this city their best judgment, and with a 7-0 vote to pass the amendment, their best judgment is very clear.

Iowa City is a community. People live here their entire lives. They deserve more than a commissioner who can only bring a narrow view — they deserve someone who can relate and empathize because they live and breathe in the same city, because they invest in the same city, and because their lives are directly affected by the decisions made in the same city.

A political maneuver on the City Council's part? Maybe. But if you look logically ask the question, then it has an obvious answer. Students, is Iowa City where you are going to live for more than 10 years? Do you still refer to where your family lives as home? If yes, then you should not be advising a political office until you know where you will spend the majority of your adult life.

— Benjamin Evans

No

A quick glance at the city of Iowa City website's commission page gives a broad requirement for admission to a city commission seat: "understanding, dedication, vision, enthusiasm, and experience."

That's all it should be.

The latest decision by the Iowa City City Council to restrict individuals who live outside of the city limits from serving on the various city commissions could prove to be regretful in the future.

This new rule seems to overlook three possible situations that may arise. First would be the conflict when out-of-state Iowa students' attempt to apply for a commission position. Because they live here for nine months or more out of the year, there is no reason they should be banned from participating in their local government.

Another would be not being able to consider those who live in University Heights. They surely spend a lot of time in their neighboring town and might like to have a say in how it is managed.

Consider the Youth Advisory Commission. Its portion of the Iowa City website lists seven members that must be under the age of 18, three of whom are not representative of the high schools. Shouldn't youth in University Heights be able to voice their opinions to the Iowa City Council on how to best bridge the gap between young people and adults? How is that restricted to residence?

The same could be said for the Parks and Recreation Commission. It wouldn't be shocking to see a University Heights resident walking her or his dog or spending the day with the kids in Villa Park since it is the closest park to the municipality, but it is under the jurisdiction of Iowa City. Why can't have a say in the funding of Villa Park?

This is all theoretical, of course. There's no real way to tell whether a drawback like this could surface. What must be remembered is that these commissions have no real legislative power; Councilors must listen to their recommendations, but they can take it or leave it.

— Joe Schueller


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