Residents wishing to testify at the scoping hearing for the proposed methanol refinery were greeted with two signup sheets, one for those supporting the proposal, and another for those opposing it.
Unlike a City Council meeting with a single signup sheet, where everyone is equal, city employees running the hearing chose to alternate between two lists and segregate who was allowed to speak.
The net effect was that everyone supporting the proposed methanol refinery could testify in a timely manner while those opposing it, the vast majority of citizens attending, either left in frustration or had to wait past 10 p.m. for their opportunity to be heard.
The appearance of fairness is crucial in a democracy. While I do not currently believe the meeting was intentionally gerrymandered to give the appearance our community was equally divided, I can see how some could walk away thinking the entire process was a cynical sham. This is very unfortunate.
Tacoma officials running the next scoping hearing should be reminded that they are public servants and not paid censors. They can restore the integrity of this important process by treating everyone equally and not giving special treatment to either side of the issue.