Public commenter ignored by Seattle City Council speaks out
At a recent city council meeting, Richard Schwartz hoped at the very least to get the councimembers’ attention during his brief 120 seconds of public comment. But he was struck by how little attention was accorded him. He joined The Dori Monson Show Wednesday to discuss it.
“I was going to compare how a lot of progressives are concerned about Trump corroding democracy, and I got thinking about the way that my community — and I’m sure other communities — have been treated by city officials,” Schwartz said.
“A lot of the time you make an inquiry and get no response at all, which is really corrosive as well to democracy. Because what it does is people say, ‘Well, they don’t even respond to me, so I guess it doesn’t matter, so I’m just going to stop participating, which isn’t good for democracy.'”
Schwartz made what appeared to be polite attempt to get members of the city council to pay attention, but they simply stared at their phones and ignored him, with councilwoman Debora Juarez speaking merely to remind him of his remaining time and scold him for apparently wasting it.
“When I got up there intending to speak on that, I saw the tops of their heads, and I’ve been to a few of these meetings as well, and that’s the way it always is,” Schwartz said. “I thought this is was another example of what I came to talk about, so maybe I’ll mention it. So I just asked very politely I thought, if they could look up and give me their attention for my two minutes of time.”
He never got it. In an attempt to give the council a fair chance, Schwartz said he wrote a polite email to Juarez and waited a week before coming on with Dori, but they never got back to him.
“My point was: You set aside 20 minutes out of the week supposedly for public comment, and I just don’t understand why during those 20 minutes you can’t detach from the other things you might be doing — and I understand they have a lot of things they’re doing — and just give citizens their attention for 20 minutes out of the week.”