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Transparency seems AWOL

Updated July 11, 2019 - 10:53 am

Tuesday night’s selection of a new council member to fill the seat vacated by Kiernan McManus when he was elected mayor certainly raises some eyebrows.

After a tie vote with two apiece for Judy Dechaine and Tracy Folda, Folda’s name was drawn by lot.

It’s not the first time Lady Luck has played a role in determining who would become an official within the state. A coin flip, dice roll and cut in deck of cards have all been used to select the winner.

But more importantly, the lack of reasons behind the nominations of either candidate causes one to pause. No qualifications were given. No indication of interest in the spot was expressed. Only vague references of conversations with community residents were mentioned. Where is the transparency in government the newly elected council members called for during their campaigns?

It appears they are doing the same things that the previous council was accused of doing: making backroom deals and cronyism. Accusations of this are already appearing on social media.

Ideally, a good approach might have been to appoint the candidate that came in third place in the election. Peggy Leavitt only lost by 39 votes, and she would have brought eight years of experience with her.

However, we understand the anti-incumbent sentiment in town and why that was never really a possibility.

Councilman Warren Harhay, who voted against appointing a person to fill the vacancy at the June 25 City Council meeting, said he thought a special election should be held in order for the process to be transparent. He said every current member of the council had been endorsed by a local Facebook group, the Boulder City Community Alliance, and it could be perceived the council needs to pay the group back. He also said he believed the founders of the group had already expressed a desire to fill the seat.

At the same meeting, Mayor Kiernan McManus said he doesn’t believe a group’s endorsement has any significance or anything to do with the selection process.

And yet, June posts on the alliance’s Facebook page, indicate that McManus encouraged Folda and another co-founder of the group to “file” for the position because they believed Dechaine was “wrong” for the community.

The question is whether the community watchdogs who were so carefully monitoring the activities of the previous council members will continue their vigilance or will they just sit back and smile. Is participating in illegal and unethical behavior OK when those doing it espouse your views?

We hold no ill will against the new council members and mayor. In fact, we wish them nothing but success in their endeavors to keep Boulder City the great place it is. But, just as we have done with previous city leadership, we will be watching.

Hali Bernstein Saylor is editor of the Boulder City Review. She can be reached at hsaylor@bouldercityreview.com or at 702-586-9523. Follow @HalisComment on Twitter.

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