Seven Quincy aldermen — all Democrats — didn’t want to hear a five-minute complaint about taxes and rising water and sewer fees Monday night. They denied a Quincy man the right to address the council.
That five minutes of discomfort they avoided may well turn into months of complaints they’ll hear from angry residents who have just found a rallying cry.
Steve McQueen, an organizer of the Quincy Tea Party held along the riverfront on April 4, thought the U.S. Constitution guaranteed him the right to speak. Even after hearing that city rules require a council vote before public comments, McQueen could not believe that elected officials could just tell citizens/voters/taxpayers their comments or concerns are not wanted.
Alderman Steve Duesterhaus, D-2, said the vote against hearing from McQueen had to do with timeliness — or a lack thereof. McQueen’s complaints about the budget or water and sewer fees should have come during previous meetings, before the items were approved, Duesterhaus said. Other Democratic aldermen had similar concerns.
The problem with the Democrats’ action is that it creates a martyr of sorts.
McQueen’s comments would have been news at Monday’s meeting. The fact that he couldn’t speak was bigger news, and the public will see this as a situation that has not yet been resolved.
When Republican aldermen — one of whom was absent and all the rest voted to allow McQueen to speak — move forward with their stated plans to freeze some city salaries and amend the budget, there will be more attention from the public.
Democrats still hold the edge. Even though it’s a 7-7 split between Democrats and Republicans on the council, Democratic Mayor John Spring would decide any tie votes.
Republicans will have a decided advantage any time they’re all present and any one of the Democrats is absent.
It will make for a tense time during the next two years with this tie council. It will make for even more tension in two years when the next city election will almost certainly see several tough campaigns for aldermanic positions. GOP challengers will raise the rallying cry about arrogance or hubris on the part of aldermen who won’t listen to voters/citizens/taxpayers.
The aldermen avoided five minutes of discomfort, though.