David Harewood, campaign director with Everyday People for Positive Change, made an impassioned plea to Clintonville Area Commission members Jan. 4, seeking to get them on board with the organization's proposal for changing the makeup of Columbus City Council.
It seemed to fall on deaf ears.
After listening to Harewood's arguments for scuttling the existing seven-member council, all of whom are elected at-large, District 5 representative Matthew Cull responded by describing Columbus as a "well-run city."
Harewood rolled his eyes, but Cull stuck to his guns.
Chairwoman Libby Wetherholt asked what would prevent Columbus from falling into the corruption she said is common in Chicago under a proposed system of electing seven council members from wards and only three at-large members.
"There will always be the scrupulous and the unscrupulous seeking power," Harewood replied.
CAC member B.J. White, who represents District 9, also saw nothing wrong with the process of appointing replacements when council members move on, as is the case with former council President and current City Attorney Zach Klein, whose seat was slated to be filled by an appointee Jan. 8.
White said as long as it's conducted in a public setting, she had no issues with the process.
"To me, it seems if I opposed that particular appointment ... that I could make my voice heard at the City Council meeting," she said.
Harewood countered that the process is "not transparent."
He opened his presentation by dissecting the reasons a 2016 attempt at creating a ward system for electing Columbus City Council members went down to defeat by a margin of around 72 percent to 28 percent, arguing the misinformation and political contributions from developers and other moneyed interests in favor of the status quo doomed that effort.
In pitching the latest approach for changing the structure of government, Harewood noted that 28 of the last 32 members of City Council initially were appointed to their positions, allowing them to subsequently run for full terms as incumbents.
Also at the initial CAC session of 2018, Wetherholt called for a report from a task force she appointed to look into the possibility of disagreements on the boundaries of commission districts 6, 8 and 9.
The members who represent those districts, Wetherholt said, have discussed the matter and have come up with a statement.
White read the statement into the record, saying the issue came up when she first took office in July and noted what she initially thought were discrepancies in the boundaries as outlined in a map on the commission's website.
Since that time, White said, she has come to realize the map is correct and a "reliable source."
"Please consider this issue resolved," she said.
Commission members voted 8-0, with District 4's Judy Minister absent, to accept the report, and Wetherholt disbanded the task force.