Editorial by the Plain Talk The honeymoon isn't over.

After all, Dan Christopherson has been mayor for less than a week.

It's a new experience for not only us as a community, but for him as well. We fully recognize that he will be facing numerous challenges as he settles into his new leadership role.

Properly running a city council meeting, however, shouldn't be one of those challenges.

And, from our perspective at least, things got a bit out of hand Tuesday night.

A long-running practice of the Vermillion City Council is to include a "visitors to be heard" item on every agenda. Visitors to council meetings may address aldermen at this time about issues that are not on that evening's meeting agenda.

Lisa Ketcham, executive director of the Vermillion Area Chamber of Commerce/Vermillion Development Company, used that opportunity to explain the facts behind Wal-Mart's decision to locate in the city to the council and to any citizens listening to the meeting.

The next item on the agenda was a public hearing and first reading of an ordinance calling for a zoning change of a parcel of property in north Vermillion, abutting Highway 50.

It has been widely rumored throughout the community for weeks that Wal-Mart is interested in locating there. Those rumors were confirmed at Tuesday's council meeting.

Christopherson campaigned with a promise to receive citizen input. He needs to remember, however, that input needs to be received in the proper way.

The zoning hearing quickly morphed into an attack session.

Wal-Mart was attacked. So were Ketcham, the local Chamber/VDC and even the Plain Talk (no offense taken, by the way).

Discussion strayed far off the topic of zoning. That's unfortunate. Zoning should have the primary focus during that portion of the meeting.

Farrel Christensen, the city's zone compliance officer, tried numerous times to get the hearing back on track. Each time he did, he was met with angry words.

Eventually, the city council did decide to accept the Vermillion Planning Commission's recommendation in favor of the zoning change.

The process, however, wasn't pretty. The citizens' input that Christopherson craves should be received in the proper context.

It shouldn't be delivered at others' expense.�Tuesday's zoning hearing should not have been allowed to stray so far out of order.

We hope the mayor keeps that in mind during future meetings.

The Vermillion Plain Talk editorials reflect the opinion of Plain Talk editor David Lias. You may contact him at david.lias@plaintalk.net

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