(September 18, 2002) -- What happened at the Sept. 17, 2002 Council meeting shouldn't have been revolutionary...but in LB it was.
Three Councilmembers -- Dan Baker, Bonnie Lowenthal and Val Lerch -- did what city lawmakers are supposed to do. They advanced independent, substantive, constructive suggestions on how the public's money should be spent. They put their suggestions in writing. They sought to discuss them at a publicly agendized City Council budget hearing.
This is revolutionary because for over eight stifling years, Councilmembers have let LB's largely ceremonial Mayor wield an unhealthy control over what LB's lawmakers do.
For years, they let her arrogate powers to herself that she doesn't have. They let her set their agenda. They let her assert power over what they were elected to do.
Real legislators don't do this. They don't let a presiding potentate exercise powers she doesn't have. Baker, Lowenthal and Lerch have done this city a service by helping bring this unhealthy, anti-democratic process to a conclusion.
In our view, the behavior of the Mayor and her two supporters, Colonna and Carroll, was just short of medieval. They did everything but claim their colleagues had plotted against the crown and committed civic heresy.
We think seven Councilmembers were guilty of exercising their right not to do what the Mayor wanted, guilty of not agreeing to funnel their suggestions through her filtration system, guilty of thinking independently and guilty of acting like the city lawmakers they were elected to be.
They're guilty of all this...and in our view, democracy in LB is healthier for it.
As for the Mayor, Vice Mayor and Councilman Carroll and the attitudes they espoused, we believe they are less powerful and less seriously regarded than they were 24 hours earlier.
That is one therapeutic benefit of what took place. We predict there will be more.