voices weren't heard
The Arizona Republic
Mar. 18, 2006 12:00 AM
This letter is in response to The Republic
editorial titled "Public not muzzled on freeways," March 2.
I have attended most of the South Mountain Citizens Advisory Team meetings and
thought this editorial absurd. Here is why:
The first year ADOT assembled and sponsored SMCAT, meetings were held. They were
unpublished and not open to the public. I attempted to attend the meetings as a
public observer but was unsuccessful. After citizens wrote and lobbied various
state and local authorities, ADOT relented and the dates and locations of the
meetings were published.
Once the meetings were open, I remember two
distinct meetings. The first had North American Indians discussing and asking
questions. In another there was a group of west-side residents asking
hard-hitting questions on the effect of this highway on their small community if
the proposed South Mountain Loop 202 should be constructed. Some time after
this, a statement was read letting the meeting attendees know that the public
will now only be allowed to submit written questions, which will then be read
aloud at the end of the meetings.
At times, the questions couldn't be answered when they were read aloud and
received the response that they would be answered at a later date or in the
environmental impact statement. Many of the questions were poignant, valid and
The public input process again changed to where the public could submit
questions that would not be read aloud but answered via the next meeting or on
the ADOT Web page. When this happened the public really didn't have input during
Many times the ADOT-sponsored SMCAT meetings would run late with the schedule
and agenda always being set by ADOT. The last item of the agenda was always to
read the public questions aloud. I mentioned this information because The
Republic editorial stated, "The team (SMCAT) was being kept late
to hear what amounted to soliloquies and rants from repetitive sources against
Is it possible to purposefully run the meetings late so when the questions are
finally read they will have less of an impact while being more of a required
final item before the SMCAT members being able to leave?
The editorial also stated, "Some audience members refused to behave within
civil boundaries and made catcalls that disrupted meetings." I can only
remember two meetings of the total of approximately 35 SMCAT meetings where the
public was out of turn. I would think some of the out-of-turn statements must
have been from frustration at not being allowed to at least have your question
read aloud at the end of the meeting.
We are ordinary citizens of Arizona hoping to be treated fairly from the
individual branches of government. I am forced to use this editorial page to be
heard, not being able to do this at the SMCAT meetings.
- David Folts, Phoenix