Arrogant Abuse Of Authority
Before I shut down tonight after what has been an exhausting day I wanted to share just a little bit of information for you to consider as we move forward.
CODIFYING JONES DAY
Today I attended the Special City Council meeting at City Hall that began at 5:00. In the audience was myself and about four employees. I anticipated the open session to be a short one - mere minutes - as contract City Attorney Tom Duarte presented to the council his item for the approval of using high-priced law firm, Jones Day, on the Charter issue. This apparently was necessary since the council had only approved them for the OCEA lawsuit.
Apparently CEO Tom Hatch can authorize up to $50,000 for temporary legal fees - which I'm told is what happened in this case. At my request last week Duarte told me he would begin showing a breakdown of just what we're paying Jones Day for on the "legal fees spreadsheet", available for viewing at the City web site.
DUARTE DODGES LEECE'S QUESTION
Anyhow, all five council members were present, Duarte read the item and explained why Jones Day was selected. Wendy Leece asked why she, as an elected official, was not given a chance to express her view via a vote of the council BEFORE the City went to court. Duarte dodged that question, indicating the item was on the closed session and preferred to discuss it then. Gary Monahan - yes, he was back - moved the item and Jim Righeimer seconded it and Mayor Eric Bever - yes, he was there - called for the vote.
BEVER SHUTS LEECE OFF
Before the vote was taken, though, Leece was given the floor to explain why she was not supporting this issue. She began to tell the council her reasons when Bever abruptly slammed the door on her. He told her that "we're not going to relive the whole history of the Charter discussion", ignored her protestations and called for the vote. I smiled as he pulled the wrong lever and had to call for a re-vote. It passed 4-1 and the council moved into closed session and I left.
ARROGANT ABUSE OF POWER...
But, I left with a very bad feeling for how things are probably going to go in the future - at least during Bever's final few months on the dais. It's clear that the majority on the council are NOT interested in hearing dissenting opinions on any issue, even from an elected member of the council. Not only was Bever's handling of this incident rude, but it disenfranchised every voter who cast a vote for Leece in two elections. And this was BEFORE they knew the outcome of the court hearing today.
...AND MORE TO COME
I suspect we're going to see a council with a VERY short tolerance for the views of speakers before them. Quite honestly, I can see more legal action in the future if they continue on this path - and more money in Jones Day's bank account as a result. These are not happy days in our city, for sure...