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Expect more instability, irresponsibility without Crismore on council

| September 6, 2006 12:00 AM

To the Editor:

The mayor and his attorney wrote a good letter detailing the removal of Councilman Crismore. Like the letter they submitted detailing the mayor's gift from W.R. Grace, this letter was 90 percent factual and 100 percent irrelevant.

The new "honest and intelligent" council wouldn't let petty personal differences hijack your vote. The 10 percent non-factual content involves the constant references to Mr. Crismore's demeanor. Stu behaved like a gentleman while being attacked. The mayor and his attorney even state in their letter that he could have avoided expulsion if he had "presented himself in a more reasonable, thoughtful and apologetic manner." Looks to me like neglect of duties is equated with a refusal to capitulate and submit to the will of the king.

I have been regularly attending council meetings for nearly nine years. Budget meetings used to entail two or three special meetings. The huge increase in the number of meetings is caused by instability in city government. This council is not up to speed on procedures and the proper duties of their office. Failure to educate themselves on the proper function of government and the limits to their authority may find them all guilty of "neglect of duties." That clause is so subjective that it can be applied across the board, it will come back to haunt those who voted for expulsion.

Mr. Crismore was doing his job when he tried to sit in on a meeting with the mayor, his attorney and EPA after contamination was found at Riverside Park. Again, Mr. Crismore was barred from the meeting, he didn't refuse to discharge his duties. That is when he became a "thorn" in the mayor's side, starting primarily in June. A scant three months later, without public debate, and the will of the voters is overturned. I'd like to see the mayor and his attorney explain why they wouldn't allow the only elected councilman to sit in on a meeting involving the health and welfare of the citizens of Libby and the impacts of that superficial cleanup on our pocketbooks.

We let Mr. Crismore down by not supporting him then, no wonder he got discouraged and let his attendance slip. What is the point in attending of you are barred from participating? The same three councilpeople, the mayor and his attorney tried the same tactic on Mr. McElmurry when he tried to inject common sense into the proceedings.

I'd like to see the mayor and his attorney explain how they were able to ratify an expulsion without the required two-thirds majority vote. State law is clear on this matter. MCA 7-5-4103: "Council rules and discipline" states; "The council may determine the rules of its proceedings, punish its members for improper conduct, and expel any member for the same by a two-thirds vote of the members elected." Seems the rules are made for the little people.

Let's spend some time on that phrase "the members elected." Mr. Crismore is the only councilperson who was initially elected to his seat by the people of Libby. Every other councilperson was initially appointed by the mayor. With Mr. Crismore expelled by these appointees, there won't be a single person there who isn't obligated to the mayor for their council seat. That is not a balanced constitutional republic, this is a Machiavellian moment of unprecedented scope.

The instability of local government will not be cured by the mayor and his attorney, correction must come from the council. Let's see them explain how they circumvented the law in this case. Show the people of Libby that it was not petty intellectual cowardice that removed a councilperson who was willing to articulate a position on matters of social import.

I personally have been barred from free speech by this council at their meetings. They don't like opposing arguments, they like compliance. Mr. Crismore fought for the people on many fronts, and he was informed in his positions. Without people like that on the council, you can expect more of the same instability, fiscal irresponsibility and abuse of the public in the future.

D.C. Orr