Great Falls City Commission: Bloviating

Tuesday night the Great Falls City Commission started their commission meeting at 7:00 p.m. When they finally adjourned it was 12:15 a.m. and there were just a few diehards remaining in the audience.

It was not always pretty and professional during those five-plus hours.

As I have mentioned several times, Great Falls City Commission meetings can become very comical and circus-like. I watched most of the proceedings on television from the comfort of home. With an over-flow crowd attending the event, I believe they could outdraw some of the acts at the State Fair if they decided to take their commission meetings on the road.

With temperatures hovering around 90 degrees in Great Falls, I imagine some of the attendees smelled pretty ripe by the end of the evening.

Here are some of my observations and my opinions about the epic event.

The good news (for some) is the commissioners did manage to approve the Thaniel Addition. Commissioners Fred Burow, Bob Jones, and Bill Bronson voted in favor of the project.

After they were well into the Thaniel Addition discussion, they had to take a break to determine if they were following the rules. It’s not like they didn’t have a couple weeks to prepare for the new discussion – they’ve known they were going to reconsider the Thaniel Addition since July 10.

I thought the Thaniel Addition should be approved, and I applaud the three who voted to approve it.

But before the vote, we were almost talked to death by the commissioners. That was after the public chimed in with their thoughts.

Mayor Mike Winters abstained from voting on it, but first he bloviated about the project for several minutes. This was after Commissioner Bill Bronson, who is an attorney in the real world, also bloviated about not having a conflict of interest while citing court cases and other legal mumbo-jumbo, and almost making me think he was a victim for some reason.

Commissioner Fred Burow, who is an auctioneer, spoke (slowly) about his reason for voting no on the Thaniel Addition the first time.

I often wish the commission had a camera panning around the audience and over the department heads so we could see people’s eyes glaze over when some of these officials go off the deep end with their speeches for several minutes.

According to the Great Falls Tribune, Commissioner Bob Kelly “recused himself because he was on the NeighborWorks Great Falls board when the proposal first came before the commission.” Kelly made a short and sweet statement about his reasons for the recusal. I think he deserved a standing ovation for brevity.

Although it’s fun to write about, I’ve written before that I’ve grown tired of the grumpiness and the cantankerous views from some on the Great Falls City Commission. It was in full display last night. I believe that Great Falls desperately needs some younger folks serving on the city commission – someone with a vision for the future and not stuck in the past.

I hope we can rid the commission of the grumpy folks during the next election.

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One thought on “Great Falls City Commission: Bloviating

  1. Not only did Bronson bloviate, but in a 15 minute prepared statement, he defiantly used the Commission chambers as a bully pulpit for his re-election bid. Bronson went after unnamed City Commission candidates who had made unspecified “allegations.” What were those allegations, though? That his wife works for NeighborWorks? (Full disclosure: I mentioned exactly this, and the consequences of perceived conflicts on the City Commission in a post on my campaign page: Facebook.com/VolkForCommission.)

    While no Commission candidate I am aware of has alleged that his participation in Thaniel was illegal, Bronson nevertheless relied on the law to provide himself cover. He crafted an elaborate straw man out of statutes, case law, and contrived, self-referential legalese to let everyone know that yes, in fact he had a legal right to vote on the Northside addition. And that’s exactly what he did.

    Conversely, Bob Kelly spoke in earnest about his role with NeighborWorks, and said that while he could legally vote as well — after resigning from NW’s Board of Directors — he ultimately declined to do so. His concluding line, and you should have seen the look on Bronson’s face after he delivered it: “There are things that are legal, and then there are things that are right.”

    I couldn’t agree more.

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