An awkward conversation at public forum
By Karen Daniels
With Fourth of July right around the corner, discussions for celebration plans were on the agenda at last week’s City Council meeting. The topic was to select the marshal for this year’s parade. Each councilmember and city representative present at the meeting had a list of the four nominees for the honored spot. Council was asked to choose two people–in case of a conflict–to be selected.
Councilman Willis was the first to speak, asking the city attorney if this matter could be handled behind closed doors. He was told, no. Mr. Willis expanded on his cautionary approach stating, “These are four upstanding, private citizens who we are talking about without their knowledge, comparing them with the other nominees.” On television, on the internet, and in person.
For a few moments Council spoke in code, using only the nominees’ respective numbers, one through four, to indicate whom they were referring to. Wen Guerra nominated Kathy Ratcliff, a SMSD school teacher, as parade marshal. Mrs. Ratcliff taught 1st grade and Reading Recovery for 25 years at Stafford Primary until she retired in June of 2011. Mrs. Ratcliff still volunteers to help the Stafford Education Foundation and the annual Gobble Hobble.
The Board quickly approved the vote, equally uncomfortable with the task of potentially embarrassing four individuals, each well thought of, without intending too. And when one individual is raised higher than the others, all of whom are being recognized for their contributions to the City, nobody wants to make the other nominees feel bad. Cecil Willis made a request that next year the council put in place a new method to discuss future nominees, other than a public forum. He was then nominated to facilitate that committee. Councilman Willis accepted.
All festivities for this family-friendly event will be held at the Stafford Centre. On Tuesday, July 3, the parade will begin at 7:00pm, followed by dancing to live music and carnival games and rides. On Wednesday, July 4th, the Fort Bend Symphony will perform their annual Patriotic Concert at 7:00pm, followed by fireworks.