Publisher’s note: Our editorial criticized mayoral candidate Jim Tibbs for his press conference calling Mayor Dave Bieter’s ethics into question. In the interest of fairness, we are running Councilman Tibbs’ response.
To be clear: Had the resolution to pay $65,000.00 to the Gallatin Group been decided on the date scheduled by Mayor Dave Bieter, I would have demanded to know in council chambers why taxpayers are paying to support Bieter’s “uniquely qualified” political cronies and handlers. The standard I look for in governance allows every citizen to know that their mayor and council will always act forthright and independently.
It is important to review the events leading up to my complaint to the Ethics Commission. It is my responsibility and right as a citizen, a council member, and as a candidate to question the relationship between Bieter and the Gallatin Group. This firm includes Cecil Andrus (Co-Chair of Bieter for mayor campaign) and Marc Johnson (member of Bieter campaign finance committee). The Gallatin Group has every right to support their candidate. They do not deserve an inside track to the city checkbook. If Bieter calls this mudslinging, because he is questioned, I suggest he look in the mirror. I intend to return leadership and accountability to the office of Mayor. This includes finishing the job of cleaning up City Hall that was initiated by Mayor Carolyn Terteling-Payne. My goal to ensure that City Hall answers to its citizens is the cornerstone of my candidacy, my serious commitment to serve.
The Mayor should agree with me that the place to deal with problems of ethics involving public officials is in the Ethics Commission that he created. I have done that. This matter isn’t about politics; it is about honest and transparent government. I intend to deal with public policy matters in the proper arena, before the City Council.
Again, what are the facts?
July 3: I made a necessary medical appointment for July 24.
July 22: The City Council received a memo from Mayor Bieter endorsing Gallatin for a $65,000.00 contract. Bieter admitted that Gallatin’s president, Marc Johnson, is a volunteer member of his campaign finance committee. He did not disclose that he paid Gallatin thousands of dollars in political consulting fees. Bieter’s awkward attempt to avoid the appearance of an obvious conflict of interest by recusing himself from only the final discussion is highly questionable. The Mayor votes only to break a tie, but his enthusiastic endorsement of Gallatin directly influences public contracting decisions.
July 24: Date for discussion of the Gallatin issue, as stated in the July 22 memo. On this same date, I informed Council leadership that I would be leaving at 1:30 p.m. for a necessary medical appointment. I was not advised by Council leadership to stay for any significant issues.
July 31: Date issue was to be resolved as stated in the Bieter memo. The Gallatin contract issue never appeared on the agenda. I reviewed the Council minutes of July 24th discovering that a decision was made in my absence. I have been accused of engineering my absence to avoid the vote. Rather, the vote may have been engineered to avoid my presence and input.
If the present Mayor were authentic about transparency and openness in city government, he should welcome any citizen’s inquiry of this questionable matter. It is the Mayor’s duty to assure that our government and its leadership serve the citizens, by asking difficult questions and demanding answers. More questions need to be asked—not less. To the public, what could more clear?