I received a copy of a letter Diane Neighbors sent out on Friday to her supporters defending her conduct during her sponsorship of bill BL2006-1178, which would exempt car washes from neighborhood and Council consideration. In it she provides a timeline and she finally concedes that she did in fact state that "indefinite deferral would be the best course to take" shortly after assuming responsibility for it in summer 2006. But she repeats a point she made lately that "ample time" has been given for public input.
While Ms. Neighbors challenges questions about financing she has received from car wash interests, she continues to refuse to address neighborhood leaders' charges that their chance to give input was short-circuited by the perception that she was going to defer the bill indefinitely. The timeline provided in her letter says nothing about any public statement from her that she had changed her mind about deferring indefinitely or that leaders she had promised were told differently, even though the former were still under the impression that she was promising indefinite deferral in the fall. Seeming to channel former Senator Bill Frist, she continues to argue that Council is entitled to an "up-or-down" vote on this bill, as if indefinite deferral constituted some kind of filibuster (which it does not).
She also defends her stewardship of the bill by saying rather opaquely that the "issue of jurisdiction over the location of the car washes had not been part of the original discussion." That one is confusing to me. We cannot consider jurisdiction just because some Council Members lacked the foresight to bring it up? The Council had a huge debate in the last meeting over a bill that would declare wheel chairs "pedestrians" with opponents calling for the need for Council to anticipate the unexpected when they pass legislation. But now, Diane Neighbors is precluding any debate about unexpected issues like control over location simply because they weren't a part of the original discussion? And even though they were brought up in the Public Hearing? Isn't that what Public Hearings are for? To consider matters that the Council might miss?
Finally, Ms. Neighbors once again leans on a rather disingenuous claim: "the record will clearly show that I have not worked in favor of or against" the bill in question. She has not abstained from any vote on this bill. She voted in favor of it twice and is the primary co-sponsor, and her letter suggests that she will see it through third reading on February 6. If she is as neutral on it as she claims to be, why is she not abstaining on the votes or turning the bill over to another co-sponsor in the interests of avoiding the appearance of bias?
I do not know how much traction the critics of the car wash exemption bill have been getting, but Diane Neighbors seems to perceive the need to shore up her support with this letter.