Thursday night the Charter Review Committee fielded questions from residents during what it called a telephone town hall. People emailed, Tweeted or called in questions for the 15-member committee to answer.
Staffers said of the 7,500 calls, around 3,100 went straight to voicemail. By the end of the call, 20 people were listening to the hearing, with the most being 254. Staffers said they thought people were listening on the phone to start, but might have started watching the meeting online or on TV.
Among the questions that people did ask but were not answered came from Janice (per a document produced by the city. It contains no last name): “Why did you and the other committee members make those derisive remarks on April 9 about the community leaders who showed up to share their thoughts with you?”
Here's what happened after the last #Charter253 public hearing: http://t.co/umXi45ySIX Officials have been on apology tour since. #Tacoma — Kate Martin (@KateReports) April 18, 2014Both committee member Ken Miller and Chairman Bill Baarsma have apologized in previous public meetings. Baarsma also wrote a letter to the editor saying he welcomes public comment.
During a City Council study session on the progress of charter review Tuesday, Baarsma said: “Sometimes people say things they regret, myself included, and I certainly apologize for remarks that were not appropriate. … But when you are in deep discussion and the passions are on and the mics are on, sometimes things are said.”
If you want to hear more apologies, the audio from the April 14 Charter Review Committee meeting is posted here. These comments start at about 7 minutes, 50 seconds.
Committee member Ken Miller said that his comments "have caused people to doubt the credibility of our work and have taken attn away from the very good content that we are crafting, and I regret that. You have my commitment that going forward, I will do my very best to be thoughtful, and tempered in my comments."
Baarsma, a former city council member and Tacoma mayor, also apologized for his "spur-of-the-moment comments." He also defended the integrity of the committee, saying in all of his 19 years as an elected official: "I have not found a body that has more integrity, more honestly, more openness than this body, or more transparency."
For more of the back-and-forth between Charter Review Committee members and the public during Thursday night’s meeting, see this compilation from social media: