Independence officials have a strong case to make regarding the city’s need for additional police officers, but the way they are going about it threatens to alienate voters already skeptical about government spending generally and City Hall specifically.

Independence officials have a strong case to make regarding the city’s need for additional police officers, but the way they are going about it threatens to alienate voters already skeptical about government spending generally and City Hall specifically.

City officials did their cause no favors this week by holding a public meeting in one of the four City Council districts – but then saying it wasn’t a forum for publicly asked and answered questions. Who could possibly be surprised that a couple of citizens who took the time to show up had questions and shouted them out when given no alternative during the meeting?

The questions are reasonable: Do your crime statistics really add up? How do we know our money will go where it’s supposed to? Why is a property tax, rather than a sales tax, being considered?

A little give-and-take between residents and officials on key issues is crucial to effective local government. Officials are asking taxpayers to dig a little more deeply. Some of the taxpayers want to hear more – maybe a lot more – before they’re persuaded. If so, then that’s the immediate job at hand for the officials pushing the issue: Answer every last question, even if it takes awhile, even if it means answering a tough question or two in front of a crowd. This shouldn’t have to be explained.

The city has three more council districts and three meetings to go in the coming weeks as the April 3 vote on the issue nears. (Any citizen can go to any meeting, regardless of where they live.) Let’s hope officials are more responsive as this process goes forward.