Springs Taxpayers posted a video clip (transcript below) from last week’s town hall meeting with City Councilors Bill Murray and Tom Strand. In a nutshell, Bill Murray repeated the “our hands are tied” talking point wherein City Councilors act as if there’s nothing they can really do about road narrowing or bike lanes or similar.
We’ve grown very tired of this talking point, because it’s not true. In previous City Council meetings Tom Strand has pointed out that the councilors talk to the Chief of Staff regularly and he in turn has the “ear of the Mayor.” Mayoral Chief of Staff Jeff Greene has likewise stated that the Mayor’s decisions on bike lanes and similar issues are based in part on the guidance from City Council. And notice the “our hands are tied” idea has not prevented Jill Gaebler from penning guest editorials, asking citizens to contact the Mayor in support of bike lanes, and joining next week’s public “Battle of the Bike Lanes” panel discussion. That’s a lot of effort from a City Councilor claiming this is simply “an administrative decision” and that City Council does not weigh in on administrative decisions.
Jerry White’s comments suggest it is not just our side of this debate that grows tired of City Council dodging the issue. White points out that City Council has voted unanimously for numerous master plans calling for more bike infrastructure, yet now seems to want to act as if they have no part to play. They’re not convincing anyone. Both our anti-road narrowing side and their pro-bike lane side can see very easily that City Council has influence here, and we are tired of them trying to ride the fence instead of represent the people.
Bill Murray: It’s critically important that we understand how the whole system works. You’ve got an executive, which is the mayor, and then you’ve got the legislator. Day-to-day activities–we learned this the hard way for striping and roads and bicycle lanes. Mayor said “It’s going to happen.” And we say “Why?” And he said because his director said it’s a safety issue so he did it anyway. We got the flack for all those things. We had nothing to do with any of the bike lanes except to come back and say “I don’t think that was the smartest thing you could do.” And so I ask you all to assist us as the legislative function to keep pressure on the executive function to do their job.
And that’s what’s critical for the success of where we’re going next. We have transit issues, we have road issues, we have storm water issues, we have parks and recs issues. We have police, safety issues. But the two teams have got to work in sync, and that’s as you address each and every issue, please think of it this way: executive does the day-to-day effort in the City.
Jerry White: I’m going to call you on that bike lane statement you just made. You guys passed the Bike Master Plan 9-0. You passed PlanCOS. You approved the downtown Imagine Downtown plan. You support the Downtown Partnership with their Bike Master Plan. City Council has been supportive of bike infrastructure in the city all along. And then when the s*** hits the fan, you’re running for cover. We need you guys to stand up and observe the previous decisions that you made when it looked good to you to build a city for the future. And you need to stand up for that city for the future that you voted 9-1 for for all those different plans. You need to stand up when you start getting some push back.
Bill Murray: Okay, now you understand what the issue here is? From a personal perspective, the first modification to a road was Research. And I personally witnessed that disaster epic and I personally went to the Mayor and said “Where does this come from? This was not in the master plan.”
Jerry White: Nobody defends Research Parkway.
Bill Murray: Well again this was part and parcel of how they executed the plan that we gave them.
Jerry White: No, no. Research was completely separate. The downtown–all the plans that I cited that you guys supported–and now when you get push back you’re running from it. And that’s not the City of Colorado Springs for the future that we need to have.