EDITORIAL: Canady holding Liberty Hill hostage

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Council member Kathy Canady, with the support of the other four Council members, has decided to hold public discussion at meetings hostage – especially if it involves an item Mayor Liz Branigan wants to address.

No one on the Council – aside from former Mayor Rick Hall – has worked so hard or been so outspoken in trying to squash open debate, often turning to toxic exchanges on the dais to force the issue.

Monday night highlighted another incident where Canady had two choices – open discussion or no discussion at all – and once again she chose to fight angrily to prevent it.

It is mind-boggling to see someone in the position of serving the public, and even getting paid for it, act as though they owed nothing to that public.

On issues of how to handle public comments or manage executive sessions in a way that favors the public’s ability to participate, Canady has responded by showing she really could not care less what might serve the public best.

“Well they’re at home where they can do something besides sit there and twiddle their thumbs like the people out here are,” Canady said Monday in response to concerns over citizens who might have trouble watching meetings due to executive session interruptions.

On the question of allowing citizens to speak on any issue they choose before the Council, Canady said in February, “I don’t want to talk about ducks or the price of tea in China. I don’t want to hear about things that don’t pertain to the agenda at this time. If somebody has concerns they have the opportunity to look at the agenda, come in and make their comments.”

Her indignation goes beyond how she responds to concerns about public participation, and she has made it a personal goal to shut down any attempts by Mayor Branigan to bring items up for discussion.

She twice shut down an effort by Branigan to discuss the city budget during a meeting, and Monday refused to support moving an item from the consent agenda to the regular agenda, which would have done nothing more than allowed an open debate for the public to hear.

No member of the city council or any governing body should be so quick to object to such conversations. But Canady has made it a habit and believes stifling such debate is her role on the Council.

Back in 2019, when the Council was questioned about its voice and a lack of public discussion on issues like the budget, Canady – who had recently been appointed – was among those who took issue with the claim, speaking up during public comments to defend the independence and voice of each council member.

But then-Mayor Hall’s tight-fisted management of the City continued unabated, and when asked why she didn’t question the budget, or show interest in considering the accusations made against Hall by former Police Chief Maverick Campbell she voiced her full trust and support for Hall.

The moment a new mayor was sworn in Canady immediately discovered her disdain for anything Branigan might even want to talk about, much less implement, with no discussion at all.

It is an interesting phenomenon and turn of fate.

Sounds personal, like a bully looking to take charge.

If Canady can’t find an interest in the voice of others, perhaps it is her voice that should be marginalized on the Council.

She is not on the ballot in May – she has yet to earn a vote for her place on the Council – but three members of the council are. It is the rest of the panel that will decide whether Canady continues to dominate meetings with her lack of interest in what the public, or other elected officials have to say. Disagreement on a solution and an action is one thing, but disagreement over allowing voices to be heard is something else entirely.

Will she be allowed to shut down others so easily going forward or will she be forced to accept being just another one of the group that makes decisions collectively?

Her job is to listen to all voices – for this city.

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