Tuesday’s 6-1 vote in favor of The Ellington is done, but some Asheville City Council members are still scrapping over how the meeting went. In a Wednesday e-mail titled “Abusing your authority as Mayor,” Carl Mumpower chides Mayor Terry Bellamy and Vice Mayor Holly Jones for cutting him off during deliberations.
In a return e-mail, Jones calls out Mumpower, saying he was “going nowhere with your dead bird silliness,” and characterizes his habit of circulating e-mails to a long cc list as “very odd” and “cowardly.”
Those e-mails, and Mumpower’s last response are below.
— Brian Postelle, staff writer
Date: October 17, 2007 7:32:18 AM EDT
Subject: Abusing your authority as Mayor-
Last evening, during the “Ellington” debate, it is my belief that you abused your authority as Mayor by allowing the Vice-Mayor to interrupt my line of questioning and subsequently utilizing the gavel to duplicate her effort. Comments like, “I do not believe that Council members should be tagging this project with their personal preferences.” or “Are there a plethora of dead birds in downtown Asheville?” do not constitute profanity, direct personal attack, or other misbehaviors that might merit authoritative intervention. That you or the Vice-Mayor take personal offense at my comments in no way validates your efforts toward censorship or arbitrary filtering of the deliberation process.
Going forward, I would encourage you to use your gavel with greater restraint. Your comment on “reining me in” was in remarkably poor taste and a broad step toward misapplication of your powers. As an elected official, I am charged to uphold the law. Should your or any other member of Council note my failure to uphold this charge, I encourage you to formally or informally bring it to my attention or otherwise take legally supported action. Offenses to your sensibilities or preferences do not provide the same opportunities.
In conclusion, under most circumstances, the most important person to “rein it” is ourselves. With your permission may I offer that you and the Vice-Mayor have historically and repeatedly violated proper procedure by “Calling the Question” as a means to curtailing deliberation to match your interests. “Calling the Question” is a motion subject to a vote by the full Council – not a unilateral trump card to be indiscriminately tossed on the dais when it suits the needs of those comfortable with bullying or censoring the deliberation process.
Asheville City Council
In a message dated 10/17/2007 8:31:48 AM Eastern Daylight Time, firstname.lastname@example.org writes:
In your heart you know you were going nowhere with your dead bird
silliness. We had reached a place of understanding. I know you are
disappointed your antics to get sound bites and have fodder for the
campaign trail did not yield as much as you would like.
Our council was ready to vote on the most significant project on our
lifetime downtown and you were doing your best to make a mockery of your
adversaries opinion. Not very statesmanlike and the public sees through it.
If abuse of power is occurring, may I suggest it is in your use of your
city council position to wage your congressional campaign. We all know
that is what we will be subjected to for the next year. So, I affirm the
mayor’s role in sticking to the city’s business at hand.
Your censoring line is getting kind of old. Anyone with that watches knows
that you get more than your two cents in. Bullying analogy is also
laughable. Good luck with all that.
P.S. As always, if you choose to continue your very odd and I may add
cowardly method of forwarding my response to folks here and yon, I would
appreciate a heads up.
Date: October 17, 2007 8:44:07 AM EDT
Subject: Re: Abusing your authority as Mayor-
As you know, I did not bring the bird issue into the deliberations. I did try to get the issue to a higher level. You are incorrect in assuming I was mocking an individual council member – I was intentionally illuminating the Council majority’s comfort with “tagging” the project with personal preferences.
As for my claims of censorship and bullying being “old”, “laughable”, or otherwise uncomfortable, when those behaviors are no longer present, it will be my pleasure to ease your discomfort.
As regards emails, please assume that I share our correspondence freely and openly, as proscribed by the laws governing our communications. Please limit your communication with me if you are uncomfortable with such. As a minority member of the Council, it remains my responsibility to assert that minority position persistently, responsibly, and enthusiastically – per the way our system of government is designed.