Freshly sworn in and ready for business, the Littleton city council backed out of the driveway and, metaphorically, immediately hit the mailbox.
Not only were two new council members absent, but one citizen marched down to raise hell about “Candy and Cash”-gate.
“At the last meeting when the recognition of the council members who were leaving–let’s see if I say this right,” she dramatically donned her eyeglasses and stared at the transcript.
“Citizens asked for time to make recognition also. [One council member] said, ‘this group may give us candy.’ Council Member [Phil] Cernanec said, ‘we appreciate cash’ and I’m sure that was a joke.”
She whipped off her glasses and point-blank recited how much the council members ten feet from her had received in campaign contributions from the cash-and-candy jokesters.
“I’m very concerned about special access for special interests. This raised all the red flags for me. I’m going to suggest it was out of order. I’m sure it was well-intentioned and I’m also sure that it was bad.”
Agreed. If there is one thing I cannot stand, it is jokes about bribery at a council meeting. (Although I am open to changing my views for a simple wire transfer of $8,000 or greater.)
Returning to the council meeting, the city attorney had another dire warning if Littleton didn’t change the definitions in its tax code.
“The legislature goes back into session on January 5. I have to tell the council it’s very, very critical that we do this,” he asserted with a wry smile.
“Property tax does not pay city bills. Sales tax does. If cities do not demonstrate this willingness to look at their tax codes, I think we will be at risk of having our sales tax authority impinged.”
The stakes were straightforward enough. The real heavy lifting, however, went to Council Member Kyle Schlachter, who read an ordinance title so lengthy and complex, it was almost as hard to comprehend as the tax code itself.
“I move to approve ordinance 35-2017 amending Title 3, Chapter 9, Sections 9-9-1-2, 3-9-3-2, 3-9-1-10, and 3-9-6-12 of the city code,” he announced triumphantly.
“I need a motion, please,” requested Mayor Debbie Brinkman, flipping through a routine emergency medical transportation enterprise fund budget.
“I move to approve the ordinance,” Mayor Pro Tem Jerry Valdes began calmly enough, “entering into a trust agreement for the Colorado Firefighters–”
“Nope!” the mayor halted him.
“I’m on the wrong one!” exclaimed Valdes, frantically poking at his tablet screen. “Take over, Kyle!”
“All right,” quickly rebounded Council Member Schlachter. “I move to approve the amendment to the Emergency Medical Transport Enterprise Fund 2017 Budget.”
Eyeing the clock near the end of the meeting, Mayor Brinkman turned to the city manager. “City manager, do you have any report?”
“I do not,” he informed her cheerfully.
“Good,” she replied absent-mindedly. Audience members started to snicker, prompting her to quickly reconsider her choice of words.
“I mean, THANK YOU!” she gushed, somewhat facetiously. As the chuckling subsided, she gave a stern parting reminder to the council.
“I need those who have not given me their goals for 2018, please send me those by the end of the week.”
I can think of one goal: get Mayor Pro Tem Valdes a tutorial for that iPad.