2013-11-21 / Opinion

Council Dynamics Unsteady

It was hard not to sense a tinge of politics behind the city council's recent decision to vote down a resolution that would have asked the city administration to develop a new ordinance dealing with aggressive panhandling. Councilor Michael T. Farley, who has been outspoken in his criticisms of both the administration and his fellow councilors, had proposed the measure in response to complaints he had heard from business owners in the Broadway neighborhood about a seemingly rising tide in aggressive solicitations.

The majority of the council dismissed his effort as needless. The police, they said, haven't asked for an ordinance revision.

But when asked by Third Ward Councilwoman Kathryn E. Leonard whether the city had the tools in place to deter the types of behavior that Farley had identified, police chief Gary Silva seemed to suggest that there was in fact room for improvement.

At this point, it's no secret that Farley has become a lightning rod on the council. Just last month, he was admonished by his colleagues for his attempt to reprimand the city manager during a public meeting.

The council needs to be careful not to discount ideas simply because of who proposes them. They should also not allow their internal disagreements to play out in public view.

If Newport is going to succeed in attracting new businesses and new voices to City Hall, then the council needs to do its best to project a sense of stability, responsiveness, and effectiveness.

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