Timing off on city questionnaire

Travis McMullen - Community Columnist

Let’s start this column by giving credit where credit is due: It’s commendable to see that the administration of the City of Sedalia sees fit to occasionally gauge the opinions of the public via survey. Sending them out with the water bill is a solid plan. It’s commendable that at least one member of the city council engages with their constituency regularly on social media. Maintaining a dialogue with the people who elected you (And even the people who didn’t) is the only way to be an effective elected official.

Of course the survey results are always going to skew negative because people are more likely to respond when there’s something going right. Someone’s probably not going to write a letter to the manufacturer when everything is working as intended, but you can bet they will when it stops working. Dear popular soft drink manufacturer, this is the 246th consecutive day in which I haven’t found any dead things in the bottom of my can of soda, updates to follow for the foreseeable future.

Here’s a question from the 2016 City of Sedalia Citizens Annual Survey, or COSCAS: “Would you financially support the construction and maintenance of a Community Center but build a community center at a later date?”

I know there are those here in Sedville that aren’t willing to pay a single cent to support a Community Center. There are too many people in this world who want to see civic improvement but would prefer to see someone else pay for it. They are the sort of people who wish that we could come up with some sort of tax that applies exclusively to tourists. That would give a whole new meaning to the phrase “Fair Tax”.

I’ve said this before, but I would prefer to see a Community Center that includes an aquatic facility from the beginning, or even one that incorporates a newly enclosed Liberty Pool. I think the center would see better attendance if it had a pool. But any Community Center is better than none, I suppose.

Here’s another question: “For health and safety purposes, should the city inspect rental properties?”

Of course, it’s easy to find tenants who would say yes and landlords who would say no. I’ve seen the pictures on social media of the senseless trashing that can happen to a property when someone is evicted. I’ve also heard the stories from tenants forced to live in illegal conditions where the property only meets bare minimums if it meets any minimums at all. There are bad tenants who mistreat homes that they don’t own. There are bad landlords who sow the seeds of neglect and harvest cash from people who don’t have the resources to move somewhere else. If the numerous well-intentioned landlords of Sedalia don’t want to see a rental inspection ordinance then they should work to make sure that the poor property managers in their ranks straighten themselves out.

Here’s one: “From what source do you get most of your local news?” There are three options: newspaper, radio and social media. That’s kind of a trick question: everybody knows that the Sedalia Democrat website and our various social media accounts are the best places for local news on the web and the paper itself is the best source of analog information.

The most interesting questions on the survey are the two at the very bottom that pertain to the recent City Council decision to change some aspects of Sedalia’s waste and recycling programs. But there’s just one problem: it seems as though the responses from those particular questions will go forever unconsidered because the council made a decision before most people even saw these questions, much less had an opportunity to answer them. On Monday, the council made a decision. Just a few days later I received my water bill complete with survey questions about that very same topic. The timing is a little off: typically you gather the opinions that you’re looking for before you make the decision.

Is asking the question too late better than not asking the question at all? That’s for you to decide.


Travis McMullen

Community Columnist

Travis McMullen is a longtime Sedalia resident who shares his views on the city through his weekly Democrat column.

Travis McMullen is a longtime Sedalia resident who shares his views on the city through his weekly Democrat column.

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