Want to see a circus? Well look no further than Fort Collins’ own city council. Yes, they have it all: a councilman who leaked information in a private meeting to the public; allegations that the council is abusing private meetings for the public forum; and, la crA”me de la crA”me, a suit filed against the city council that will be fought with, you guessed it, taxpayer dollars.
For those of you who haven’t been keeping up on all the brouhaha let me give you a quick rundown.
It all started when Councilman Eric Hamrick told information to the public about City Manager John Fischbach’s performance review and his salary for 2002- information that was discussed in a private meeting. This didn’t make Councilman Bill Bertschy all that happy, and he filed a complaint on January 15. Hamrick responded by saying that the council abused their power of private meetings and memos and often spoke of public business privately.
The council then agreed to start a review board to look at Hamrick’s allegations. The board didn’t last for long though; last Tuesday, Hamrick filed a lawsuit against the council that, according to him in The Coloradoan, is supposed to help clear up areas in the City Code. In response, the council suspended the review board until after the suit. Then, on Wednesday, Hamrick comes out and says that he will drop the lawsuit if the council drops the complaint against him.
Is anyone else dizzy yet?
Accusations are flying all over the place, money is being wasted on superfluous lawsuits and our elected officials are acting like children blackmailing each other and acting out of retaliation.
To be honest, after everything that’s happened, I’m beyond caring who is at fault. Sure, maybe Hamrick should have kept his mouth shut, but Fischbach’s salary is public information anyway. Yes, the council may have been speaking of public information in private but I’m sure a lawsuit won’t inspire them to speak out more.
The bottom line is that this whole situation, and how it’s being handled, is ridiculous. These are the people who are supposed to set an example for the rest of us. They are the people who were elected to lead, not backbite, and definitely not file lawsuits that the taxpayers will pay for anyway.
What does it say about a city when the leaders can’t handle problems themselves and have to turn to a judge to figure things out? Does that give me permission to file a suit against one of my co-workers whenever I might have a problem with them?
As students, we should be interested in our local government because they have the biggest impact on our everyday lives. Members of the council have alleged for years that students just don’t care when it comes to issues in Fort Collins.
While situations like these certainly probably won’t build up your confidence in local government, hopefully they’ll inspire you to speak out and let them know how immature they’re acting.
It’s time for the Fort Collins City Council to get beyond all of these petty arguments. This city has some real issues to deal with, and they’ll never be solved as long as our leaders continue to act like children.
Maria Sanchez-Traynor is a senior majoring in journalism and English.