A basic rule of decorum is to speak only after called upon by the chair, the mayor in the case of a City Council meeting. Ms. Levison repeatedly talks over others and speaks out of turn, and has been reprimanded for it. At this meeting, though, she did something I hadn’t seen: She tried to block a councilmember from seconding a motion. She cried, “But I was next in line with the mic; can someone just shout out a second?” Mayor Baum reminded her she does it all of the time, as do all council members. But regardless of her place in line, no speaker “has the mic” until they are recognized from the chair. She’s done this long enough on other boards; there’s no excuse for this.
She was upset that council was going to go through the Election Committee’s recommendations for changes to the Longmont Fair Campaign Practices Act one by one, and give each recommendation either a thumbs up or thumbs down vote. In a brazen show of hypocrisy and double standards, she complained about “picking items out that we want to vote on immediately,” forgetting this is exactly what she and the previous council did in 2009 when they made disastrous changes to the LFCPA. She also must forget all of the “last minute” changes she attempted to make to the city budget.
Next, she wanted to invoke Section 4.8 of the city charter for a rarely used provision to form an “ordinance revision committee.” Other council members rightly pointed out that during the amending the LFCPA in ‘09, when she was in favor of those changes, there was no request for this committee. This was obviously a stalling maneuver, a filibuster if you like, but it was also much more. She wanted to take the policy decisions from the elected council members and place it in the hands of a three-person group of unelected individuals. This would take the important discussion that should be open to the public and place it in a back room. This proves any and all calls by Ms. Levison and her fellow travelers for transparency to be a total sham, at least when it doesn’t serve their purposes.
When council voted to end the Election Committee’s role as judge and jury, which in reality was mostly a self-serving kangaroo court, Ms. Levison drew comparisons to the “Saturday Night Massacre” and President Nixon’s search for someone to fire a special prosecutor. Seriously, this is the kind of tripe you miss when you don’t watch these meetings.
When it was clear Ms. Levison was going to lose every argument, she wanted to put it in the LFCPA ordinance that the city clerk will have reports online within 24 hours, which is done anyway. Is this to assume that there will be penalties and fines on the City Clerk if it’s an hour or a day late? Finally, she asked that the discussion of the LFCPA end and be brought up at a later date. In other words, she encouraged the punting the previous council was famous for, and that voters wanted to see stopped.
The main takeaway is this: Sarah Levison showed herself to be a spiteful and angry politician who can’t govern when she doesn’t get her way. She owes residents an apology for her behavior. Her baby, the amended LFCPA, has rightly been defanged by a federal judge, residents and now the City Council. All candidates supporting the changes to the LFCPA were soundly defeated in the ’09 election; as they say “the voters spoke.”
If Ms. Levison cannot act professionally and with decorum, she should resign. She will be up for re-election in 2011, or a rumored run for mayor. Either way, she’s yet another example of what’s wrong with Longmont and should not remain on council in any capacity.