Better behavior expected from council
Last week’s blowup in City Council chambers, when resident Marilyn Marks got under the skin of some City Council members because she wanted to record a work session, apparently won’t die.
This week a litany of e-mail exchanges among the mayor, council members, Marks and other residents came to light and is the latest round of barbs over an issue that should not even have been one in the first place.
For some time, Marks has lobbied the city government to tape its council work sessions and air them on GrassRoots TV, a public-access station. The taping would require a budget increase. Because the City Council had not yet decided on the issue, Marks came to last week’s work session with GrassRoots TV, having paid the station $300 out of her own pocket to tape the meeting and broadcast it.
Marks obviously has an agenda ” she was a vocal critic of last year’s legislation limiting property owners on what they can do to buildings 30 years and older. She also sat on the Citizen Budget Task Force, which unearthed the major discrepancy between what voters were told would be the total price of Burlingame and what it is today ” at least $73 million higher.
It’s indisputable that she shares a corner with Aspen residents who are put off by the direction of City Council under Mayor Mick Ireland’s leadership and have started to bang the campaign drum. After all, the May election is a mere 10 months away.
Marks might be pushy, but she’s also calm under fire. When the mayor and councilmen Jack Johnson and Steve Skadron lambasted her at last week’s work session, shortly before the camera started rolling, she didn’t flinch. And now she and her cohorts are feeling as indignant as ever, and rightfully so. After all, she tossed out the bait, and the mayor and other council members aptly gobbled it up by trying to intimidate and discredit her.
Ireland and other council members seem to have lost sight of the fact that Marks is entitled to videotape a council work session, no matter what her agenda might be. Simply put, our elected leaders are letting personal feelings trump what’s fair.
We understand the pressures they feel on a daily basis. They are under constant scrutiny in a city that takes itself way too seriously. But they also need to keep their emotions in check. Marks has placed Ireland and other council members on the defensive, when all they needed to do was let her tape the session; she does have the First Amendment on her side, after all. The issue would have died right then, right there.
Instead, when our mayor and council members should be focusing on bigger issues, they’ve been caught up in a spitting match with a savvy gadfly.
We should all expect more mature behavior and a higher standard of leadership from our elected officials. Getting unhinged when a resident wants to tape a meeting is unbecoming of Mayor Ireland and other council members, and is unacceptable.