At the same time people were complaining about political maneuvers our state House and Senate were making at the deadline of the legislative session, our own Mayor Dennis Coombs pulled a maneuver I had never seen at a council meeting.
Whenever a council member “pulls” an item off the Consent Agenda, that council member is immediately called upon by the mayor when that item is up for discussion. The item in question was the “Municipal Code Regarding Oil And Gas Well Operations” – aka fracking. The council member who pulled it was Katie Witt.
But Mayor Coombs instead called on Councilmember Sarah Levison who immediately made a motion to pass the oil and gas regulations – which was seconded by none other than Mayor Coombs himself. This was out of line for Mayor Coombs and showed no respect for fellow councilmembers from both Ms. Levison and Mr. Coombs.
The person who pulled the item for discussion was immediately behind the eight ball, by design, and Mayor Coombs made it appear that pre-meeting coordination was afoot. Odds were, and it turned out to be so, that this was going to pass on first reading anyway. Why the games?
During this discussion, Councilmember Brian Bagley said he didn’t mind a court fight, saying he thought the city could win. But Councilmember Bonnie Finley was correct: that money would be better spent on monitoring air and water quality around wells. Even if the city could win a court battle, it wouldn’t come cheap. With all due respect to my friend Mr. Bagley, an attorney, attorneys are the only ones who win in these cases. The rest of us have to pay for it – win or lose.