Letter: Editor wrong about mayor’s powers
To the Editor:
A month ago, the editor said: "The Mayor is not going to : There is an eight-member City Council to make sure he doesn't. To think the mayor is that powerful is ridiculous." I laughed until tears ran down my cheeks at that statement. I try never to make fun of anyone because they don't know something. The more I thought about it, it took me back to when I had my Masters, many political science and history courses, no common sense and no actual experience in politics. I realize now that our editor may be in exactly that spot. Seven years later, I found myself in Kansas City, Kan., believing that Doris could make a difference and change bad situations in my community. I became deeply involved in National Chamber of Commerce Action Courses in Practical Politics, taught classes myself and applied what I learned. My Pollyanna thoughts, naivete and high hopes were not realistic. Knowledge of Unified Government is extremely challenging. Fifty years later, I am trying to make a difference because I am indebted to Bonner.
I have never said, thought or intimated that the mayor alone is powerful. The mayor, with the backing and instigation of two very strong council people, became powerful.
When he was first elected, Mayor Steve Breneman had three newcomers backing his ideas. Connie Steele, Amber Sechrist and appointee of Mayor Breneman's, and Debe Birzer. Usually, on important votes, Dan Byers, Archie Sanders, Doug Clements, and many times, Wendy Scheidt, and appointee of former mayor Stolfus had differing views. Jeff Harrington was an independent, who voted many times with the latter four. Steve Breneman had served on the same council, and had voted against the status quo, so when he became mayor, he didn't have votes to pass a proposal.
There was an important vote in November 2001; Councilwoman Wendy Scheidt talked as if she were on the mayor's side. He called for the vote, but Scheidt voted with the four others, and not with the mayor's three sidekicks. The mayor lost that vote. It only took five people to keep him from voting on the issue, to break a tie.
Soon after that, I felt because Councilwoman Wendy Scheidt had two desires of her ownit appears she wanted $100,000 a year for 10 years for the 1918 building, and she also openly stated what she wants on a topic that is no longer permitted in The Chieftain she started siding with the mayor and his three council people on other issues. She did so, it appeared to me, so the Mayor would favor her two issues, one of which involves enforcement of codes. Possibly, "You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours." She actually has given the mayor power, because it would be four votes for the mayor's stand on an issue and four votes against. A tie vote gave the mayor the power to break the tie, and he became a powerful mayor. There are codes and ordinances, and if the mayor and his four sidekicks want certain codes enforced that have never been enforced, there doesn't have to be a vote or a proposal. I am sure the new city manager will listen to their desires, since they currently have control of the City Council and they are his bosses. It will be interesting to see what Councilwoman Scheidt does as soon as she gets the vote on the 1918 building and the other topic enforced.
Please go to the City Council meetings. The Library has a copy of the council packet. Before each meeting, you can read, see what is going to be on the agenda, go to council meeting, watch and listen. These nine people determine what is done in our city and how our money is spent. See for yourself, and vote accordingly next April.