Tuesday, Feb. 12 2013 4:14PM
You just had to be there...
By John Beaudoin
Our city council is making it nearly impossible for me to keep my word on getting back to positive columns for the month of February.
And if you watched the city council meeting from last Thursday, you know good and well why that is.
If you haven’t watched it, you should. The entire five hours may be overkill (yes, five hours), but the last 30 minutes are the real meat of the issues that surround our city council, their relationship and communication issues with city staff and just how broken the system seems to be right now.
We ended a five-hour meeting with representatives from Wal-Mart abruptly leaving the meeting as soon as the vote came back 4-3 against their application, some terse and immature words exchanged from two councilmen – “Mayor Wannbe” from David Mosby and an expletive reply from Ed Cockrell – a needed lecture from City Manager Steve Arbo to the entire council and, quite frankly, general confusion.
So let’s back up a bit on what transpired.
Mosby made a motion that clearly wasn’t ready for prime time. This motion, although some of the council didn’t realize it at the time, was to move the Wal-Mart plan forward. It failed by one vote.
Councilmember Allan Gray then lightly chastised city staff for not going above and beyond on parking studies as it relates to projects that will clearly need more attention on those matters.
The good news is that city staff, not as lightly, pushed back.
Arbo figuratively wagged his finger at the council, reminding them that the same set of standards are used for all applicants of this nature and that any deviation from consistency falls at their feet, not his or his department heads.
Councilmember Derek Holland said as much a few minutes earlier, reminding everyone that the council has made different decisions and brought up different issues on the HyVee gas station, Price Chopper and now Wal-Mart.
Price Chopper asked for and received incentives; Wal-Mart was asking for none.
If it wasn’t such a sad ending to the meeting, it would be almost laughable.
Problem is, there is nothing funny about what happened.
When a meeting deteriorates to the point that it did last week, Mayor Randy Rhoads might want to just shut it down in the future.
Oh, and after all the blustering and grandstanding, the city council voted to completely reverse itself, 7-0 to reconsider the Wal-Mart issue. That is, if Wal-Mart even wants to come back.
That vote seemed to prompt an angry response from some of the few Wal-Mart opponents that were left at council, a few of them continuing the pattern of disrespect toward Arbo.
I’d like to say we’re better than this. But I am starting to wonder now.
We’ve swung and missed twice already in 2013 on major issues at the city council level. Let’s hope our elected officials can make some adjustments.
Just like the bond issue, we’ve done development projects like this before. Let’s act like we’ve been there.