FD council listens and learns

It’s popular these days when politicians change their stance on an issue to accuse them of flip-flopping.

Sometimes, however, a change of course is exactly what’s needed.

Members of the Fort Dodge City Council did an abrupt about-face Monday on a controversial animal ordinance. Gone are provisions limiting the number of pets people can own and the requirement that pets be leashed at all times, even when in the pet owner’s company on his or her private property.

Although the more restrictive measure passed 4-3 a week earlier, on Monday the revised ordinance passed unanimously.

Council member Kim Alstott, who had voted against the ordinance in its original form, said Monday, “This is what I’ve been fighting for all along. I do believe it was treading on people’s liberties and rights.”

Jacque Johanson, who had previously spoken out against the ordinance, returned Monday to ask why those who had voted in favor of what she called the “flawed animal ordinance” appeared to have changed their minds so quickly.

While the council members’ answers varied, Robert “Barney” Patterson – who said he still believed the original ordinance was properly worded – may have said it best: “Our job is to listen to the public.”

Johanson agreed, but added, “You should listen to the people. You didn’t before tonight.”

Not only did the council passed the revised ordinance, members also unanimously voted to waive the second and third readings, meaning the new ordinance is now law.

Listening to constituents is vital; so is knowing when to change course.