How bias is the Mayor?
In my response to complainants that will be discussed at Monday’s council meeting I included a section entitled “Issue of Bias”. The last sentence of that section reads “I have spent 45 minutes trying, without luck, to compose this section in an appropriate way for this document, so I will move on.” I wrote that sentence because I know there are a lot more considerations that I wanted to be able to tell you about but could not figure out how to do it in a non-political way.
Before I published the response to complainants I tried to avoid the comments on Facebook and did not read the newspaper articles. I still have not watched either of the Byrge videos I have been given. Although, I’ve seen the screen capture of Shaw Town with Richard’s caricature and the first still frame of the second one shows that I need to lose some weight or at least go back to wearing blousing straps. I perceive that generally people take positively that I have not commented outside the official response. On the other hand, I think it is more beneficial to the overall discussion if you know at least what I have considered prior to the discussion. This forum lets me convey that and I do not have to be as careful about the political implications.
I will start first with the couple of things I was considering working into the reply that were political. Those were; how can I use this to get council to become more transparent and how can this be used so residents see the overall negative influence Ed’s behaviors have in the city and perhaps hasten his departure from council. Then I will talk about my perceptions of council members that you should know about that did not influence the assessment of this complaint.
Transparency and open discussions
Even though I said I spent 45 minutes trying to figure out how to turn this complaint into an issue about transparency that really was just the time Thursday night. It really was the reason I did not respond within the first ten days. The way I perceive the first two years of my term was that I would make good arguments about issues, council would know they lost the argument so they turned the discussion to personality and other inconsequential things in order to distract and avoid doing what residents really desire (now you see why this did not make it into the official response). Even after the new council was put in place too many discussions occurred behind the scenes so that the public would not be able to understand why council made one decision over another.
If it could be proved decisively that the DVD’s were placed in other council members mailboxes and the majority of residents would conclude that members of council were lying about that fact perhaps they could be convinced to do more of council’s business in public. Recently, Janel exposed that Ed had coordinated a behind the scenes discussion on the banners that was contrary to the open meetings act. In my telephone conversation that occurred a week or two after the interview she made a comment that caused my “transparency” antenna to perk up. …… they would never discuss that on their city accounts, they would use their personal email for that. Is the gist of what she said about an issue before council. But I did not ask to nor did I secretly record that conversation, so I cannot quote exactly what she said or remember exactly which council issue we were discussing. But in general, I got the impression she could provide more examples of background conversations about city issues that were done contrary to the open meetings act. But it was only an impression, she did not make that assertion and on the topic of the DVD she searched her personal emails and did not find any conversations.
The point here is my desire for transparency caused me to spend a long time trying to figure out how to be able to bring transparency and open discussions into this conversation. I believe that a lot of background conversations that do not involve violations of the open meetings act need to stop in order for council to make better decisions. You can see this when looking at the spending decisions council makes.
If you look at the agenda for this week you will see a preliminary tax budget. The first line of that report gives an Estimated Unencumbered Balance as of January 1, 2018 of the General Fund. I have said from the beginning of my term that every discussion involving spending money should start with a report that gives that current balance. Yet we have not seen it since the budget process last year.
I tried to make this point again with the discussion about the Parks Master Plan expenditure. If you recall certain members of council decided to spend money on this once they heard that the city received a rebate from the county for taxes paid on the 80 acres. They made that decision without looking at how much total money the city had available or how our revenues and expenditures compared with our projected budget. They made that decision without considering the impact the expenditure would have on other spending priorities. When I pointed out that our last official report we had showed we were significantly behind in tax revenues they went behind the scenes and got a verbal explanation on that point only. This information about tax revenues, provided in private, consoled these council members so much that it prevented them from requiring them to have staff publish the current available balance of funds or to inspire them to talk about spending priorities.
I allotted myself only until it was time to go to church and committed to writing about the Brandt Pike Revitalization and exploring if the residents desire a Strong Mayor form of government, so this is the end of the complaint discussion until those are completed or Monday’s Council meeting.
Shoot – I’m so disappointed I got so wrapped up about issues and didn’t get to talk about personalities.
Ok in short.
I was thinking about writing how much I disdain Ed and how important it was to figure out how to ensure the Firefighters Union, NAACP and Democratic party do not continue to embarrass themselves by supporting his behaviors.
I am often annoyed by the actions of other members of council, but I do not disdain them.
I will say that making personal attacks like the one found in this video just because I had a different opinion about the one and done amendment is one of those things I find annoying.
What is worse is that, as in this exchange, I typically react to personal attacks by trying to get the discussion back on issue but often residents believe it when certain council members re-tell these exchanges as my being mean and unreasonable.
If you do not remember the one and done amendment that council got passed because they bought advertisements that said everyone was unanimous in recommending the amendment and wrote the ballot language so it appeared like they were solving the emergency legislation issue, you can read my article on this amendment here.