mountain mail reporting of city council

At last night"s City Council work session on the budget, the council decided on a course to pursue to eliminate the operating deficit. It was only after the council made a decision that city employees and others spoke. However, the Mountain Mail article made it appear that the council was bullied into their decision by city employees. NOT TRUE!

Also, the MM did not report on the funniest event of the evening . When Melody Hallet said she did not support the Carlisle/Farney initiative, the audience roared with spontaneous laughter.

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  • The "Trust Us" naysayers are finally getting their due.Their thoughtless negativity has put a well run city on the brink of financial disaster and none of them have a clue about what to do about it.Perhaps saner heads will prevail but if not we all know the names of the few idiots who put us into this situation. Shame on them.

  • I have been watching this dialogue for some time and have been wary of speaking up, given the tone on comment threads such as this one. Over 50% of the City of Salida population voted in favor if the Carlisle/Farney initiative. I am likely one of many people who voted in favor of it because I was shocked the City Council and City Administration did not take proactive action to present an alternative budget scenario in case this initiative passed. How is that the fault of the local electorate? Several times, I also asked a critical question, which fell on deaf ears - why would staff cuts be necessary if 2A funds were restricted to their original intent, given that intent was always for capital improvements? I continue to see over half of Salida's population slandered for supporting the Initiative, yet we should all be asking our elected and appointed officials why they did not prepare an alternative budget scenario, should this Initiative pass. That step would have been good business. That omission is grossly negligent and is not the fault of the voters. Where is the accountability? How does this make me - an informed, intelligent, and active citizen - someone of a character that is marked by "thoughtless negativity?" I do not appreciate the name calling. In Salida, there are likely several ways forward. Just because we do not always share the same opinion, does not mean we do not want the best for our City.

  • Supps,

    Unfortunately, you are repeating one of the VERY gross inaccuracies about this vote. These have been promulgated intentionally or not in several places, including the Mountain Mail. After all the years of conversation, debate, articles in the Mountain Mail, 47% of the registered voters in the City of Salida did NOT vote in this election!!! Of those who, did a majority were in favor with 52-53% in favor. This works out ((.52-.53) *.53)) to a bit over 27% of the registered voters in favor of the initiative. Therefore 27% of the population are responsible for whatever happens, because they were in favor of the budget changes. The other 73% were either against the initiative, or didn't give a rip.

    I agree completely with your final sentence.

    Jay

  • edited April 2015

    Jay,

    I did not intend to be inaccurate. Let me clarify - over 50% of the City of Salida's "voting electorate" supported the Carlisle/Farney initiative. The average voter turnout for municipal elections is around 20%, nationwide. Over 50% of the City of Salida' registered voters participated, which is an outstanding turnout for an off-cycle, single ballot initiative. In a democracy, the voting electorate determines the outcome. The 47% of registered voters who did not participate in this election relinquished their opinion on the outcome by choosing not to vote. Each voter is responsible for the outcome, whether by casting a vote or by inaction. Therefore, it is impossible for 27% of the population to be responsible for the results of an election.

    The purpose of my original response was to share my frustration with the blame shifting to the electorate that supported this initiative. My intention was to state that many well informed citizens voted for the Carlisle/Farney initiative (over 50% of the voting electorate) and had solid reasons for doing so. My focus was that the elected and appointed officials need to take some responsibility for this situation, as they did not take proactive action to present an alternative budget scenario in case this initiative passed. We can get sidetracked all day long with semantics and percentages, but it is a lack of planning, not thoughtless negativity, that has created the current situation. We still are not seeing solutions.

  • Supps, I wholeheartedly agree with your point - just because we do not always share the same opinion, does not mean we do not want the best for our city. However, when you speak of 'blame shifting' and 'taking responsibility' I just have to speak up. Are you attempting to say it was the appointed official's fault that you didn't take just a couple minutes to find out what the facts were about this important election? And where exactly does your own responsibility lie in choosing to vote the way you did, or is that someone else's fault too? I saw much information being disseminated through the Mountain Mail and other avenues. There were many opportunities to just ask someone involved in the campaign what the details were if you were interested. So, do elected officials need to take some responsibility for the situation? Yes. But we need to take our own responsibility for the vote we cast and/or lack of fact checking we do. Carlisle/Farney (and friends) bamboozled a lot of citizens in our fair community, and now we are left to pick up the pieces and figure out a solution. "Who do you trust?" Indeed.

  • edited April 2015

    Jill,

    I am so confused by your response. As I stated in my posts, I spent more than a few minutes learning facts about the election and made an informed decision. I do not regret my vote, nor have I tried to blame someone for it - nor did I ever indicate that. What each of my responses has emphasized is that I find it fustraiting that because my opinion is different than the prevailing opinion on this thread, it means I am misinformed or did not educate myself. This characterization is inaccurate for myself, and likely many voters, and is what promoted my original comment. I did ask for details and I made an informed choice, which I do not regret. The information I collected swayed me to vote with the majority, which does not need to result in name calling. I have not attempted to shift responsibility at all in this discussion thread. I simply maintain that our elected and appointed officials need to take responsibility for not having a contingency plan for moving forward if the initiative passed. I only feel bamboozled as to why this type of behavior is condoned.

  • I actually thought that three members of the City Council and several members of the City Staff tried again and again to come up with an alternative budget. I do regularly attend City Council meetings and watched the process of three vs three and the tie vote issues. What is not covered in our local newspaper is the obstructionist behavior of just a few citizens during public comment, this adds hours to every City Council meeting and prevents work to be completed. To mention that three City Council people have recently learned the difference of capital and operating expenditures is quite scary. I believe giving new City Council members 6 months to a year to figure this out and then watch meeting after meeting where they are just confused. Council members Bowers and Brown figured out the 2A cuts were going to come from city staff at 8:35 pm on April 7th, 2015 during the actual City Council meeting, go look at the tape and see the expressions on their faces and tone in their voices. The City of Salida was in its best financial situation in decades, look at work completed, walk around the town and appreciate, pay attention to the City audits (we just had one presented April 7th at City Council), look at sales tax revenues. The 2A group's "manufactured crisis" has put everyone in a heightened awareness and hopefully this situation can be reversed in the next election. The shameful part is city employee jobs are at stake just so some streets could get fixed, and the funny part is they were going to get fixed anyway under the alternate initiative. If any people who are reading this did not know how serious this last election was or what the actual outcomes would be then explain how to get this information to the public. As for City Council person Hal Brown, please reread his guest opinion in the MM on March 2nd, 2015 (Maybe the Salida Citizen can do a link). Our local paper printed one side of the issue with very little facts, and who wouldn't vote for fixing streets.

  • by a 4 to 3 vote, the city administrator has absolute power; she should be absolutely accountable for each and every fiasco.

  • Wow! My original comment concerned The Mountain Mail and the misinformation or lack of information it provides. Another example was today's article on the Town Hall Meeting. In my opinion, the most important thing that happened at the Town Hall Meeting was that 3 council members did not show. This meeting was suppose to be citizen's opportunity to ask questions of **all **council members. I have little trust for anyone who will not face their critics.

  • David, Do you mean she is responsible for the result of the March vote? Or is she responsible for the new budget that vote requires? That could be the fiasco.

    Louise, The Mountain Mail, during my prior experience on council, was frequently inaccurate, often biased, and usually highly critical of any decisions made. They have new reporters since then who seem better at reporting what actually happened, but the editorial bias against city government remains as before, witness the 27% landslide with 47% not caring to vote. See Supps comments above for how a non vote is in fact a vote .

  • Yes, If she would have complied with the 2008 electorate discussion we wouldn't have had a special election.

  • oops I meant the 2008 decision.

  • edited May 2015

    I ask anyone to provide a single citation to any article, statement or opinion in which either Mike Bowers, Hal Brown or Melodee Hallett said, "Vote for 2014-28." I don't believe there is one.

    Mike Bowers came closest in his vote of November 18, 2014, but the minutes show he actually voted against having the city draft an alternative ordinance, not for 2014-28. He only wanted 2014-28 to go on the ballot by itself to let the voters decide.

    Mr. Brown wrote an opinion defending Billy Carlisle and Rod Farney for their citizen activism efforts. They were being attacked by people greatly offended that Carlisle and Farney (or anybody) could possibly dare disagree with them, but Brown's opinion was a different thing from supporting 2014-28 itself. If you'll recall, he drafted his own proposal.

    Hallett never said anything much one way or the other. She was not at all involved in drafting 2014-28. Show us her statements of support, all those who recently laughed at her.

    Yet now everybody blames these three and stamps their feet and yells at them to come up with solutions, solutions that are actually by contract and law MacDonald's duty to create for consideration and approval.

    The collective tantrum and level of vitriol now being displayed by some small portion of those who disagreed with 2014-28 may soon - rightfully - become the story. The Mountain Mail has actually exhibited restraint in reporting on it.

    Having spent time in personal contact with Billy Carlisle after the 2013 election, I attest that not once - in public or private - did he ever exhibit the negative emotional responses or anger now being thrown around out by the city and a handful of its supporters. He showed class, restraint and humor even in those private times when he could have vented.

    City employees and supporters would better serve their own interests if they accepted the reality - and it is a reality, whether they like it or not - that city leaders are mistrusted and disliked by a significant portion of Salida residents. Getting mad won't change that dislike and mistrust. Lashing out won't make it disappear.

    Exerting internal pressure on MacDonald and Yerkey to shape up by respecting citizens and the law just might.

  • Ah Jeff, there you go again! Ever hear the phrase, "Actions speak louder than words." I find it interesting that you are so sure that the 3 council members never said "Vote for 2014-28." Were they coached? If so, to ensure accountable government, they should tell the voters.

    To say, "The collective tantrum and level of vitriol now being displayed by some small portion of those who disagreed with 2014-28" is quite inaccurate. We were expressing our opinions in a calm but forceful manner. However, some of those opinions that related to the absurd statements, such as Ms. Hallet's that start this discussion, and Monica Griensenback's complaint about the 30 cent tax on bacon, were a little sarcastic.

    It is about time that the 73% of voters who did not vote for the 2014-28 initiative let the council know what they want. The council has been hearing from the naysayers (AKA CAGers) for a very long time. In fact, "The collective tantrum and level of vitriol now being displayed by some small portion" of citizens aptly describes the CAGers.

    Unlike you, I was at the Wednesday work session and did not see a collective tantrum or level of vitriol. Just look at the video on channel 10.

  • I find this thread very interesting. I also do not find it negative. However, since I know many/most of you, I am aware that you are reasonable people.

    The goal of THE CITIZEN is to raise the bar on discourse and create a place where we can better understand each other's goals, ideals, and perceptions about our community—to make our community better. Since I have your attention, do you have any suggestions about how we can improve The Citizen in tis regard?

    To you all feel we have created an alternative space (as compared to The Mtn Mail)? Consider that The Citizen was started when so many people wanted a smarter place to discuss important issues.

    Thanks in advance for your positive ideas. —bill d

  • We should be focusing more on our common interests and less on the things that divide us. The 2015 community survey seemed fair and most presentations by the city have fairly presented it to the public. A big majority, 59.8% considered Affordable Housing as 1 or our 3 most important issues. On another question 56.8% said we should spend money on our streets. When asked what the most serious problem facing our community was the biggest response was community controversy at 38.9%. It is time to examine ourselves. Those who consider themselves community activists and leaders should start focusing more on the issues we agree on and less on the controversies. I am in agreement with 85% or more of the goals of the majority of 4 and their supporters. Most Salidans want the same things. Do not forget that in 2005, 2008, and in 2015 a majority of us voted to commit capital to streets, and other capital types of infrastructure and equipment. Our initiative 2014 - 28 just put the Council on notice again that we wanted our streets taken care of. These senseless attacks on Bowers, Brown and Hallett are uncalled for. None of them supported our initiative. Baker and Yerkey on the other hand attacked our initiative from the podium of the Council repeatedly. No sour grapes here, but for the record their repeated threats to layoff city workers were improper campaign tactics. The threats to citizens about loss of services were exaggerated and hysterical. I haven't got time to go play all the tapes, but I am guessing Rogers was right in there with them. Defending the conduct in the work session on April 29th is not helpful. Go see the Utube for yourself. Who was Kevin Nelson addressing when he said, "The people that are really b_ _ _ _ing, if they don't like Salida head them out. There is other places to live." Sounds to me like he is b _ _ _ _ing about something. I don't plan to ask him to leave town. Is he talking to almost 1,000 Salidans who voted for better streets for Salida? He also verbally attacked Monika Griesenbeck and threw coins in her lap saying, "This is for Monika, I love you dearly, but here's your 30 cents." He needs to get over himself and apologize to the citizens in general and Monika in specific. That was Keith Baker you will hear applauding in the back ground. I don't blame the city employees for venting, as much as I fault the administration and members of the Council who have been threatening city employees with layoffs, starting that inflammatory rhetoric as early as September of 2014. Our valued members of city staff are not pawns to be threatened and played in that way.
    Certainly calling the citizens who voted for the initiative uninformed is unfair. The almost 2,000 who voted one way or another on the streets initiatives are likely the people who followed the matter closely and cast a well thought out vote. Now is the time to pull together and work on solutions. Continuing to fan the flames of resentment and general bickering will not be helpful. 2016 is the year to watch. I see no reason why we can't handle this with reserves for the remainder of the year, and come up with a sustainable budget for 2016. I will wave this olive branch one more time. Reasonable solutions for 2016 with majority support from the Council are the answer. 4-3 votes with the mayor breaking the ties will not cut it for me. Secondly, any tampering with past initiatives and spending allocations must be addressed with a vote of the people. Thirdly, the plan needs to include protected funds and accounts, and reporting systems that are detailed and accurate. The same people that are being derided for voting for 2014-28 for the streets are some of the same people who voted for the 2005 initiative and the 2008 initiative. The Council needs to work together to forge a plan we can unite behind. Talk to Hal Brown about this. He came up with a good alternative initiative that Tom Yerkey and folks who vote with him rejected. This has been a good discourse. Let's make it a discourse, not an argument. Billy Carlisle

  • Billy, You wrote, "Baker and Yerkey on the other hand attacked our initiative from the podium of the Council repeatedly. " Did they attack it or did they express their concerns over the resulting $500,000 operating deficit?

    Let us work together. Let us all remember that expressing an opposing opinion is not arguing. Let us all remember that voices not heard before have merit. Let us all remember that only 27% of the eligible voters agreed with the initiative. Let us all remember we have a $500,000 operating deficit that must be fixed and all options must be on the table. I think taking funds from reserves is imprudent. You apparently don't. Let us all remember just because we don't get what we want, doesn't make the decision wrong.

    As for Councilman Brown, I did want to talk to him at the Town Hall Meeting. He was not there.

    Bill, as for your question, I wish I had an answer. Differences of opinion will remain. Facts can have various interpretations. But, the truth is the truth. Perhaps you could have a truth investigator. Finding the right person who would donate so much time would be the problem.

  • Jeff, didn't you just get embarrassed at the State level? Next time, Hire a lawyer. Billy, it was your arguments ... excuse me, good discourse, .. that got us in the mess. Low voter turnout might be because the vote doesn't count. The 2008 initiative was ignored and now this one will be dismantled. I love this town for it's setting and vibrant people. Most of them are really enjoying their lives here and so am I.

  • Thanks again for the civil discourse and comments. Kind Regards, Billy

  • Hal Brown's Guest Opinion in the Mountain Mail on March 2nd where he signed the article Salida City Councilman Ward 1 shows his support for Carlisle/Farney initiative. As City Council meeting after City Council meeting happened please do not pretend he, Mike Bowers, and Melodee Hallett did not try to sway voters against the City's Alternative Initiative. Billy Carlisle states the hard work Hal Brown put together in trying to make the City's Initiative response. What Billy Carlisle forgets is Hal Brown rambled on about his solution and nobody understood what he was saying. Mike Bowers then publicly stated the Carlisle/Farney Initiative is good enough for him, then after all his so called hard work Hal Brown publicly states he thinks the Carlisle/Farney is good enough for him also. What Hal Brown proposed was confusing and long winded and did not make sense and after all this so called "hard work" he let it be dropped in a moment of reassurance from Councilperson Mike Bowers. During a following City Council meeting I asked Councilperson Hal Brown if he helped write the Carlisle/Farney initiative. I specifically used this scenario of his support of the Carlisle/Farney Initiative as my reasoning. I still have not received an answer. To bring this title subject of Mountain Mail reporting on City Council meetings in full circle it would be great for Hal Brown to let the citizens of Salida know if he did help write, help craft, help consult, the Carlisle/Farney Initiative in any way. As for the several people who keep getting up in the Citizen participation and telling the City Staff they need to come up with the solutions of $521K in cuts is shameful. I believe the same three City Council persons who publicly supported the Carlisle/Farney Initiative, who were continuously told this is serious, should be the ones coming up with the solutions, or at least making an effort instead of just blaming. They should also be showing the citizens of Salida that they actually know the difference between Capital and Operating expenses rather than this nugget being explained to them every meeting. As for solutions? Taking it out of Capital Reserves is embarrassing.

  • Well stated, Shawn.

  • Shawn, The discussions need to turn to the 2016 budget. The key to getting that done is for the Councilpeople to form a compromise that a majority of the Councilpersons can agree on. The citizens are growing weary of the 4-3 votes with the Mayor breaking the ties. No disrespect intended, but the Mayor sides with Tom Yerkey and Dara too often for most citizens to believe he is exercising decision making that is based on studying the facts. The problem with this approach is that Tom Yerkey wants control, not compromise. He will not consider improvements in record keeping, budgeting and accountability. He may surprise me but until now he has not been willing to try to reach compromises on accountability. This community wants peace. Thirty plus percent of Salidans ranked controversies as one of the three biggest problems facing our community. Controversies received the highest/biggest rating. We should be listening to ourselves; most of us are ready for the controversies to be in the past. Those who lead and have influence in this community should be seeking compromises, not controversies. Hal Brown and Tom Yerkey both lobbied with me for more flexibility when we were still in the process of drafting 2014-28. I never heard an offer that I thought was acceptable. We, the drafters of the 2014-28 initiative, decided to focus on the 1%. It was pretty clear to citizens that the 1% was not being properly applied and proving that was easy. I have been watching this City Government carefully for 3 years. Tom is inclined to negotiate and drag his feet until opportunities for compromise have passed. He wants what he wants, and when he is negotiating you get the sense that his goal is to wear you down. There was a point at which I and others decided we needed to go to the voters and that further delays were working against us. Hal Brown and Tom Yerkey had the same amount of input into our, the drafters, decision making process. They believed the 85% for capital we were asking for was too hard a goal to meet. Neither of them proposed a clear alternative so we reduced the % to 75% as a good will gesture. Hal Brown proposed a good alternative to the Council after we brought our initiative forward with the required signatures. The Council, at least the crew or 4-3, rejected Hal's alternative. The 2016 budget needs to be based on compromise and improvements in the area of accountability. I believe common ground could be found. If that can't be accomplished by this Council, the one elected in November of 2015 will have a shot at it. This will all work out one way or the other. Stress, strife and tension will not help. My goal is to relax and be flexible. Best regards, Billy

  • Billy, Thank you for confirming Hal Brown worked with you on drafting 2014-28. If the Mountain Mail reads this thread it should be a main question for them to ask again and again until Hal Brown addresses it personally to the public. Not having a clear picture of Capital and Operating expenditures is a big issue and we have three people on City Council: Melodee Hallett, Mike Bowers, Hal Brown who are continually confused about these items during City Council meetings. Time and time again the citizens of this town have listened to Hal Brown try to change and shift monies around to solve the $521K shortfall. The really funny part is all this shifting and moving around of money and these bizarre ideas are the exact things Councilman Brown is trying to find in his so called "audit committee". The citizens of this town have just heard an amazing City of Salida Audit report from Lyman Hamblin on 4-7-2015, yet Council people Brown, Hallett, Bowers are still trying to finance this audit committee. As for solutions to the 2016 budget and having six City Council members work together is a great idea, from what I have witnessed it needs to start with Hallett, Bowers, Brown.

  • Shawn, nobody had input into the initiative save the handful of citizens who were drafting it. We went back and forth with the city clerk on the language. The City officials saw that language going back and forth about 5 times. Most of that was technical and legal and spanned a few months (I am not going to be specific on that time frame; I don't have time to review all those documents today). The delays seemed overly long to me. It is sufficient to say the Council could have made suggestions during that time. We met with 2 council people about the measure, the Treasurer and Dara. No one made a counter proposal that we considered. They did talk about a revised streets plan. The problem with that is historically those plans have not been executed and there was no offer of accountability requirements. I never heard anything that I considered a clear or acceptable compromise offer. We moved the capital amount from 85% to 75%, thinking that is would leave more money in the public works side for maintenance. No one ever made an offer. There were just complaints that our numbers were too rigid. We moved the number from 85% of the 1% to 75% of the 1% as a good faith gesture. Hal Brown made a proposal to the Council. I thought it was a good alternative. It was radically different than 2014-28 and I never saw it until it was presented in Council. I think if the Council had put Brown's initiative the ballot they would have had a better chance of winning. I was never in a position to endorse it. I felt obligated to promote the initiative I was a proponent of and which 400 citizens had signed. Our initiative was fixed in stone at that point and was by law required to go to the ballot. The Council did not accept Brown's proposal and instead went with Baker's proposal. The most glaring weakness in the Baker / City counter proposal was that it lacked accountability language. That omission is, in my opinion, what cost them the election. I can't understand why the city is fighting accountability so hard. The citizens have a right to know how their money is being spent. Best regards, Billy

  • Billy, You keep on writing about compromise and then complain that your positions were not enacted. It seems that to you compromise means getting what you want and not what is best for all.

    You also frequently cite that the citizens want what you want. How do you know? As you do know only 27% of Salida's registered voters voted for your initiative. That doesn't mean they agree with you on everything else.

    You also frequently cite a desire for accountable transparent government. Did you ever tell your supporters that you initiative would result in over a $500,000 deficit in operating? You and all council members were told this numerous times. If you did not understand the difference between capital and operating and the related restrictions, then why did you not educate yourself and your supporters? If you did understand, then why weren't you transparent about it? And, why are not the city council members who supported your initiative accountable for the results?

  • I am very concerned about this effort to de-legitimize the election results by saying that only 27% of people voted for it. I really want to know - do those of you who started and repeat this number think that the election is invalid? Louise? Jay? Does the fact that 47% of registered voters failed to vote change the outcome? I personally think that 53% turnout in an offcycle single issue election is awesome. I have also talked to many people who voted both ways and no of them seem confused about what they were voting for.

    Let's put it another way - Mayor Dixon was elected by far fewer than a majority of the citizens of Salida - Does your argument mean that every tie vote he has broken is illegitimate? No one in modern times (outside of a dictatorship) has ever been elected by a majority of registered votes, not if they had an opponent. No president, no governor, certainly no Salida City Council-member.

    Elections have consequences. In this case, as is always the case, one side lost. You sound like tea part conspiracy theorists. As I mentioned - turnout for this kind of election was great. Both sides had ample time to present their issues to the public, people paid attention and they voted. One side lost, one side won.

    This is the way we do things in 'merica.

    It is wrong, always wrong to attempt to de-legitimize a free and fair election. And calling people "idiots" isn't really going to help your argument either.

  • Bill, Since some of those more or less in favor of 2014-28, and I mean the Mountain Mail in particular, seemed to trumpet the outcome and its large majority, I felt it was reasonable to point out the actual percentages, to put things in perspective. It was not to DE-legitimize the election. The election is valid as the voters have voted, and as Supps has accurately indicated earlier in the thread a non vote really is a vote. I was just surprised with all the noise and effort put into the discussion that the turn out was only 53%.

    Who called people "idiots"?

  • Bill, Of course the election was valid. But that does not mean that the majority of citizens agree with Billy, etal. as Billy and others seem to purport. I never called any voter an idiot, I do believe some were misinformed and misled. I certainly could be wrong about that, but the folks I've talked to who voted for Billy's initiative did not understand what would happen with the budget. I guess we talked to different folks.

  • Bill, Re-reading your commentary you have become remarkably histrionic on this topic. I am utterly surprised at your reaction to some simple percentages of voting results. The voters have spoken and the consequences will happen. But, why the anger?

  • When people refer to "the tone of these threads" the inference is that they are negative. With varying opinions, it is hardly going to be a love fest, but this discussion seems reasonable to me. If I knew nothing about the process that lead to the vote, this thread would be insightful—from the percentage of voter turnout to a better understanding of the City Council's relative political alignments. Thanks for taking the time to explain your positions. Perhaps it is time to begin a new discussion about a solution? That would put The Citizen to the test, eh?

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