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Editorial: Avoid Roundabout To Pointless Meeting

Conventional wisdom would seem to hold that the point of a public meeting is to gather input from the public on the issue at hand in order to make a more informed decision.

And that’s what should happen tonight at a meeting City Councilor Debbie O’Malley has planned from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center to discuss a proposed roundabout at the intersection of Rio Grande and Candelaria.

O’Malley sent a letter to constituents Friday saying the meeting is so “everyone who was unable to get information, ask questions or express their opinions … can do so,” even though she also announced she won’t change her position supporting construction of the $1.5 million traffic-calming structure for which she obtained federal funding.

Granted, growing vocal opposition has come late in the game. This is the fifth public meeting on the project, and it’s understandable officials may believe they’ve already heard everything there is to be said on the topic and have little patience two years into the process for latecomers to the debate.

But keeping an open mind while expanding on the blanket statement that the intersection is plagued by “speeding and safety concerns” — with specifics on how the intersection’s average of eight wrecks a year is best addressed with major infrastructure changes — would go further toward making O’Malley’s case.

On one hand, you’ve got to give the councilor points for honesty in saying she has no intention of changing her mind no matter what happens at the meeting. And for being willing to show up in public and listen to critics, along, presumably, with supporters.

But making the case for the project and factoring tonight’s public input into the decision making is better than having people sign up for a two-minute chance to make comments that will be dismissed out of hand.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.

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