Hillsboro City Council has some important issues to address before the end of the year. Among them is a decision on whether to join the Paint Creek fire and EMS district as a member, or seek to continue the current contractual arrangement. The public discussion of this important issue should have begun before now.
But where has council’s focus been lately? For some on council, it’s been on an effort to “do something” in response to Hillsboro Mayor Drew Hastings’ social media posts.
Council’s Civil Service and Employee Relations Committee suddenly sprang into action on Sept. 19 for a meeting which was advertised as dealing with “employee complaints.” But no employees aired any complaints, and the meeting devolved into two and half hours of a few residents complaining about Hastings and his social media posts.
The mayor’s posts on various social media forums like Facebook and Twitter have often been misguided and sometimes insensitive. It is not surprising that some people are offended by his comments. As long as Drew Hastings serves as mayor, he should at the very least rein in his more acidic social media observations. He is the mayor of Hillsboro, including people who do not like him and who did not vote for him.
But as many have noted, Hastings’ brand of commentary was well-known to the residents of Hillsboro when voters elected him in 2011 and reelected him in 2015, each time with about 60 percent of the vote. Individually, council members have always been free to express whatever opinion they hold about the mayor.
Considering that the initial committee meeting on a resolution critical of Hastings was held on Sept. 19 – more than three full weeks before the next scheduled council meeting on Oct. 10 – the suggestion that a second committee meeting could not have been scheduled to approve a final resolution in time for council’s consideration this month is difficult to comprehend. Now, officials say the matter will apparently not be addressed until council meets in November, leaving it to dangle over the city and the mayor for another full month (and, interestingly, after council elections are held on Nov. 7).
Short of bringing the matter to a vote at Tuesday’s meeting so it can be put behind us sooner rather than later, council should refocus on the important initiatives and projects that need its attention. Along with the crucial decision on fire and EMS coverage, the mayor’s proposal for creation of a Downtown Development District deserves careful consideration. Decisions need to be made about the former Colony Theatre site, a proposed skate board park, and a long-awaited update of the city’s Civil Service Manual.
Council should focus less on whether to slap the mayor’s wrist, and more on the pressing issues that deserve the bulk of council’s time and attention as 2017 quickly winds to a close.