Council should avoid telling voters how to vote

Speech made to the Longmont City Council August 17, 2004 by Chris Rodriguez

There’s an item on the agenda tonight that apparently doesn’t warrant a public debate or discussion of. A resolution of the Council urging Longmont citizens to vote “No” on the ballot question regarding collective bargaining for police and fire employees. Seems either staff, council, or both, don’t want or need to hear what the voting and taxpaying public think. Since this is still a democracy and you are our representatives, I’m asking you NOT to vote in favor of this resolution.

This all stems from your city staff and its’ budget of 2003 with its supposed financial crisis. If there really was such a crisis, it was by staffs own waste and abuse. They continue it with the hundreds of thousands of dollars wasted on hired guns and resolutions from on high for you to adopt. This road they led you down with their questionable budgeting and unfair employee treatment has taken you right to it’s logical conclusion: employees needing a union as their trust and faith in their employers has hit rock bottom.

Tonight you’re probably going to hear from a city manager whose credibility has been questioned in public and in court, along with his underlings that’ll get right in line with the guy who holds their purse strings. You’ll hear perceived problems with this line or that line, or the wording of the ballot issue. They’ll give you this resolution as a way out. A way to say “I’m not against unions or our fine city employees, just the way this is worded.” A way to save your political skin as you stick it to your workers, yet again. These same staffers could care less about your political future, unless it’s to their benefit.

No one said democracy is easy, painless or that you could get your cake and eat it, too. Tonight you need to make a decision on behalf of your voting and taxpaying public.

If you personally are not going to vote for this ballot question, that’s fine and that’s your right. But that doesn’t mean you, as a council, have to vote for a resolution urging us, the voters, to get in line with you or your city staff. Most people don’t take too kindly to their elected officials telling their constituents what to do or how to think. This is exactly what your staffers are trying to force you into with this ridiculous resolution. What’s more troubling is the fashion they snuck this item in, not wanting the public’s opinion, yet wanting you to tell that same public they should vote a certain way. If you don’t see a problem with that, you should.

By voting for this resolution, it is condoning the monumental disaster and embarrassment this current city staff has been for the City of Longmont. Unfortunately, they can’t be voted out of office, but you can. You are getting in the middle of city employees telling you to wage war against other city employees, in public. You aren’t city staffs representatives, you are our representatives. Have any of us asked you to wage war on our policemen and firefighters?

Let this ballot issue pass or fail on its own merits. Don’t tamper with the election process like your staffers want you to. Don’t waste any more of council’s time, and definitely don’t waste any of our taxpayer dollars, on this campaign against this ballot issue.

Voters need to know in the next couple elections who you really represent, them, or your city staff. The choice is yours.

(EDITORS NOTE: This resolution passed 6-1, with Wilson voting against.)

About Chris Rodriguez

Chris is the editor/publisher of LightningRod Blog - as well as founder/editor of Wrongmont, Longmont Advocate, Vote!Longmont, Longmont Politics, the LightningRod Radio Network, as well as being the original Longmont Examiner. Chris is a writer and talker - whether it be blogs, podcasts, music, or public speaking. When he's not heard on Air Traffic radio, he can be heard on his podcasts or seen in the local paper causing trouble.
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