Why mess around with a wrist slapping?

A lot of people lately have been asking if Stehly or I are going to file an ethics complaint against council chair Erpenbach for limiting public input. Stehly went as far as going to the Charter Revision Commission meeting to ask them about it (one more reason why these meetings need to be recorded);

Theresa Stehly wants to know what happens if a city councilor violates city ordinance.

For example, she says, what happens if a councilor got a letter from Project T.R.I.M., failed to trim his or her trees, so the city comes out and does it, charges $150, and said councilor never pays?

Stehly proposed this scenario during Thursday’s Charter Revision Commission meeting, and asked whether it would be grounds for an ethics violation.

City Attorney Dave Pfeifle told her city councilors are held to the same standards as other citizens, and failing to trim trees and not paying a fine would be similar to getting a speeding ticket or parking ticket.

“So there’s no recourse there?” Stehly asked.

“They’re treated the same as everyone else,” Pfeifle said.

“Shouldn’t they be held to a higher standard being they’re an elected official?” Stehly asked. “Could I file an ethics violation against someone for breaking city ordinance?”

Pfeifle said she could, but it’s doubtful that would be grounds for an ethics violation.

First, let me clear the air. While several people who were involved in the December 18 council meeting censorship debacle have thrown around the idea of an ethics complaint, we are mostly in agreement; even if Erpenbach was found guilty of an ethics violation, what would be the recourse? There wouldn’t be any, and the council could continue to limit public input. This is bigger then that. The council and council chair need to be STOPPED from ever doing this again. In other words, take the rule book out of their hands and make them follow the existing rules;

30.015 ADDRESSING THE COUNCIL; TIME LIMIT.

(c) Each person addressing the city council shall step up to the microphone in front of the rail, shall give his or her name in an audible tone of voice for the record, and unless further time is granted by the city council, shall be limited to five minutes.

Citizens must decide what will be done to accomplish this. There are MANY avenues we could follow, but one thing is clear, Erpenbach possibly violated city ordinance by limiting public input.

Not sure where it is going from here, but I will assure you, an ethics complaint is definately off the table. Stay tuned.



4 comments ↓

#1 anominous on 01.12.13 at 2:08 pm

If I was The Mayor, I would totally pass the buck on this one.

#2 Detroit Lewis on 01.12.13 at 2:17 pm

Oh, he has.

#3 rufusx on 01.12.13 at 11:04 pm

According to Robert’s Rules, the council can adapt or change wahetevr rules it wants by majority vote – right?

#4 Detroit Lewis on 01.12.13 at 11:48 pm

Ruf – as I understand it in my research (and for Christsake I am no expert) that you are right. The chair or clerk must always get a 2/3rd vote before making or adapting a rule in the meeting (that would be 6 votes). Erpenbach has never asked for that.