Emails released by the city today under an open-records request filed by the Independent shed more light on the tension between Mayor Steve Bach and members of the City Council.
Here are some examples:
When the mayor’s office accidentally — or purposely? — released emails indicating that the mayor wasn’t going to implement the council’s budget changes, council liaison Aimee Cox was floored.
“This is an interesting chain of email about legal opinion the Mayor’s Office has received about the budget,” Cox wrote in an email to council President Scott Hente on Jan. 13.
“I can’t believe the Mayor’s Office really wanted us to see this,” she wrote.
Hente forwarded the emails to his colleagues the following Monday.
“I saw this chain of emails late Friday afternoon and basically stewed over this over the weekend,” Hente wrote. “I am forwarding it to you all without editorializing on my part but would welcome your comments.”
Councilman Bernie Herpin didn’t hold back.
“Basically, council has become irrelevant to the administration of the city,” Herpin wrote. “The mayor can, in effect, veto our decisions on the running of MHS and CSU by refusing to sign documents. He has also, in effect, taken away our ability to appropriate funds and to make decisions as to how those funds should be spent. He has a city attorney that will provide legal advice that supports his position and it appears we have no recourse. This is very disturbing and should be the focal point of our 18th meeting.”
At that meeting, council members were ready for battle, but the mayor started out by saying he had every intention of implementing council’s budget changes.
Click here to see video of that meeting. The body language says it all.
The emails released by the city today also show that council members have had trouble obtaining information from the Bach administration.
On Nov. 10, Councilwoman Lisa Czelatdko sent the mayor and her colleagues an email stating that “we have to work together as a team” for the city to succeed.
“I’m sick of Council not knowing what is going on,” she wrote.
“I know we have understandable growing pains but I don’t see us working towards improving them. Please let’s commit to working together,” Czelatdko added.
It’s unclear if the mayor or anyone else responded because large portions of the emails have been redacted or altogether blacked out.
On Dec. 23, Czelatdko asked Budget Manager Lisa Bigelow via email to provide information about how much money the Bach administration spent on “office redecorating, security system, total of annual mileage account, trip expenditure acct, and total annual salaries of newly created positions please.”
In another email, Czelatdko said she wanted to know how much money the mayor had spent on his new Spirit of the Springs initiative, among other costs, as well as “how money is moved around budget and transferred to various areas.”
On Dec. 29, Czelatdko sent another email saying she hadn’t received “any response or acknowledgment of expenditure requests.”
Bigelow apparently forwarded Czelatdko’s requests for information to the mayor, who told Steve Cox, who was then his chief of staff, to handle the situation.
“Steve, pls advise Aimee Cox that we’ll need 5 or more Councilors to individually request by email before taking up staff time on this,” the mayor wrote.
“Also, pls ask her to remind Councilors of the executive branch action request protocol Council discussed at its retreat,” he added.