Decisions are based on facts and due process. It is the arbiter's duty to weigh all facts and establish due process. On the utility-rate-increase issue, the arbiter of facts is the City Council.
City management advocated its case with both a 50-minute presentation and an additional 10 minutes the following week. To bolster its arguments, it produced its expert witness, the chief electrical engineer for GWP. Funds were spent to produce exhibits and charts.
On the opposing side, citizens pleaded in two-minute intervals regarding their own personal financial hardship. The inequality of time to argue, the lack of funding for an advocate for the citizens, and the quality of advocacy to present their case was glaringly unfair.
The council shirked its duty when it failed to create a process that can bring forth competing ideas. It allowed for a one-sided presentation leaving the citizens to fend for themselves.
Taking staff recommendation at face value when the council does not allow the time or funds for a professional that can evaluate the merits and present another alternative is a failure of due process. Expecting lay citizens to step forward to present an alternative plan in an area of high technical knowledge is disingenuous and only creates an illusion of fairness. The council's lack of technical knowledge in the area does not absolve their responsibility on determination of facts and thereby acquiescing to a single-sided argument.
The quality of the council's decision would have been better supported had there been a ratepayer advocate. City Council should take this opportunity to improve its decision-making process.