OPINION: Honor the Code of Conduct

To all members of the CC and Mayor Akins:

I realize that things are changing fast.  I was deeply concerned about Jensen’s letters in the Sneak Preview and Tidings a few weeks ago. I thought them disrespectful, inaccurate, and rude. He is known for telling the public they should get elected if they want to critique or question what elected officials do.  That comes across as telling the public to keep silent if they have any questions, objections, or revisions to CC proposals.

That alarmed me as our country’s form of government requires an informed and active citizenry, supported in being able to vote and participate in every way as the source of power… government for, of, and by the people… theoretically with the consent of the governed!!!  All elected officials and government employees are public servants.

There was much discussion a few weeks ago about the need for a Code of Conduct… and how issues should be immediately addressed in a CC meeting… with specific procedures and the possibility of censure.

Everyone promised to function in alignment with the Code and try harder.  

This morning I opened my Tidings and read that, in addition to Lohman, Hanks is leaving his job… but not surprised by either choice.  Lohman is 68, and the people he worked with are either retiring or changing their focus.  The selection of Hanks as City Manager was blocked by the public……there were credentials and job experience that many felt were crucial to help Ashland get its financial house in order.  Stromberg tried very hard to place him in a 3 year contract late last year.  The public was very vocal that we wanted to consider outside candidates who could take a fresh look for the City.  We wanted the new Mayor and Council in office to actually hire a new City Manager.  Hanks obviously was aware he was not going to be automatically put into the new position. I am sure he rethought many aspects of his future, as anyone would.  So his world was changing too.

I was absolutely shocked to read the Tidings article today with quotes from Jensen.  They violate the Code of Conduct in every way.  He was shockingly negative, accusing Moran, Duquenne, and Akins of:  “a stunning level of dishonesty, personal attacks, and an inability to come close to anything resembling responsible municipal governance.”  WOW!    His language is jaw dropingly vitriolic,  full of wild unsubstantiated accusations, and incredibly hostile.  I also believe everything he said is untrue.    

His comments are such an extreme violation of the Code, I  believe the CC must immediately initiate the agreed on process to consider censure.  I think it is the only possible result.  You must follow the agreed upon process.  I fail to see how, after saying these things he can remain in office and function with any honesty or effectiveness.   In addition he has stated that all cuts have been made already, and the budget is bare bones.  

I  call on Councillor Jensen to resign his position. He is not right for this role when Ashland needs to reorganize the ways we spend and manage our money. The depth of his disdain appears to me to be insurmountable.  I hope Councillor Jensen can resign gracefully.  If he stays, he must be able to refrain from such behavior in the future.  Having differing views is enough of a challenge; this extreme vitriol seems insurmountable.

Mayor Akins, Councillor Shaun Moran, and Councillor Gina Duquenne were elected because they spoke up about our financial crisis and other fundamental issues.  They truthed that literally millions in the red would overwhelm our future.  Without the federal money we would be there now.   

Mayor Akins was originally elected to the council because of her values and her honesty about the budget.   When she was elected to the CC, she walked her talk with every vote. She continues to do so as Mayor.  

Shaun Moran served on the CBC for six years. He and other members of the CBC began to publicize the deep problems with overspending and many ways in which we could manage our money better in 2017… or at least that is when I began to see letters in the papers. They were treated the way whistle blowers often are… while the then CC and Mayor Stromberg fought to continue the way they had always acted. More and more community members spoke up about more and more aspects of city government that needed a reset.

I do not know as much about Councillor Duquenne’s history in terms of her involvement with budget issues we face.  I know she was very respected in the community for her activism and integrity on other issues.  I know what she ran on; she is walking her talk, too.  She has earned my deep respect.

Other Councillors have been forced to admit we have a financial crisis… but still embrace increasing revenue time and time again.  Their votes show it.

When these three speak up and point out unsustainable spending,  they are trying to facilitate the process we must go through to avoid bankruptcy.  They have attempted to ensure the budget information is fully available so they can make decisions based on necessary data.   They are trying to get the process focused, organized, and well planned to effectively redesign the patterns of management and spending, while welcoming community input, and to identify choices that are sustainable.  They are the ones pushing to find a new City Manager like the voters chose over a year ago!!  That is the very definition of good government.  They are my heroes for taking this on!!!

So we are in another new place. I hope you will consider my input.  The whole community is watching.

Gwen Davies