The Butte-Silver Bow Council of Commissioners deserves credit for the way it handled the public-comment question on the Butte Hill consent decree last week.
The initial communication from Council Chair John Morgan indicated the Council would take comments “through April 15,” but on Wednesday the Council approved taking comments from phone and mail at both the April 15 and May 6 meetings – and then reassessing to decide whether waiting for the opportunity for a face-to-face comment session is needed.
Both the extension of comment-taking to another meeting and the commitment to reassess after that time are excellent steps. We were critical of the initial approach outlined in Morgan’s initial communication. We are very pleased with the Council’s action Wednesday.
We still believe that the Superfund timeline, after more than three decades of process, is not so critical that the matter can’t wait for a face-to-face discussion with citizens at Council. Above all, people must be given the chance to weigh in, and the Council must be able to have the benefit of the people’s thoughts on this vital issue before their vote.
But this is clearly a step — or two steps — in the right direction.
We perfectly understand that Chairman Morgan never intended to call a vote on the decree on April 15. But once public comment is cut off, a vote is sure to follow in short order.
Morgan also said he didn’t mean to imply that April 15 was the cutoff for public comment, although that’s certainly a reasonable interpretation of the communication. But now’s not the time to argue about what was intended. The positive steps taken by the Council Wednesday deserve the community’s thanks, and that goes for Morgan, in particular. We understand that his Council post is generally thankless, and so: Thanks.
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