Special Virtual Town Board Meeting: March 20, 20207 min read
Hi neighbors! In last Friday’s Special Virtual Town Board Meeting, we passed a resolution allowing for remote meetings during a declared state of emergency and passed a resolution extending our current state of emergency for 60 days. Ready to find out more on what happened? As usual, you may read this post in written form, or scroll to the bottom for a video recap.
Disclaimer: While I do my best to represent an honest and accurate portrayal of meetings and events, the following should be considered an editorial that represents one person’s interpretation of the meetings. At the request of my fellow Board members, I am keeping their points anonymous rather than trying to attribute my interpretation to them personally. For the most unbiased and complete information, I would encourage residents to watch the meeting video itself and draw their own conclusions – visit the town website at SuperiorColorado.gov for the official meeting video and meeting minutes. Finally, I’d also encourage you to check out EngagedCitizens.us, which is a fantastic free tool created by one of our own residents. Engaged Citizens includes a repository of agendas, documents, and meeting videos, and allows you to search within a video to jump to critical parts. I hope you find it as helpful as I do!
Item 3 – Adoption of a Resolution of the Board of Trustees of the Town of Superior Approving a Remote Meeting Policy
First, we considered adoption of a resolution to allow remote meetings. Remote meetings would only be allowed when we have a state of emergency, and the entire Board must be remote – it is not permitted for some members to be at Town Hall and others in person.
We had a lot of discussion around what the sunset policy for this should be – meaning, when would this policy go off the books? I proposed that we adjust the proposed policy so that remote meetings are not just allowed when we have declared a state of emergency. I foresee at some point in the future, we might not still have a state of emergency in effect (e.g., when people get used to social distancing), but we still don’t feel comfortable meeting in person. Although others on the Board suggested deferring this adjustment to a later date, I pointed out that we had a light agenda at this meeting, so it would make more sense to discuss and adopt the changes now. Our Town Attorney mentioned that the state as a whole may change the remote meeting policy to match what other states, like Alaska, do – allowing for remote meetings at all times, not just during a state of emergency. However, the general consensus from the Board seemed to be that people prefer to wait to follow the state rather than proactively deciding for ourselves.
We unanimously approved the remote meeting policy as originally written (linked here).
Item 4 – Adoption of a Resolution of the Board of Trustees of the Town of Superior Declaring a Local Disaster Emergency
Next, we considered a resolution to extend the local disaster emergency that the Mayor had enacted from the initial seven days. Again, we had a lot of discussion around what the end date of this emergency should be, and whether it should be tied to the state or independent. While I don’t think Superior will be uniquely affected by COVID19 compared to other Colorado communities, I support our ability to make decisions independently of the decisions the state is making. When it comes to matters of public health and safety, we’ve historically taken the lead where the state hasn’t – on things like Jefferson Parkway and oil & gas. This, to me, is another instance where I would like to have the flexibility to protect our residents no matter what the state and federal government are doing. Ultimately, we decided to set the state of emergency for 60 days, with the understanding that we can lift it or extend it at any time.
During public comment, Superior Chamber of Commerce Executive Director TJ Sullivan asked if the Town of Superior had the ability to prevent commercial evictions during this state of emergency; our Town Attorney said she would look into this.
The resolution passed unanimously.
Item 5 – Board Announcements and Remarks
Finally, we added an item to the agenda for members of the Board to make any announcements and remarks before we closed the meeting.
During the discussion, a member of the Board noted that many people are still using parks / playgrounds, including in groups of more than ten, and brought up potentially putting out communications to discourage this. I strongly suggested that we close the playgrounds – even though we have Town Staff cleaning them once a day, anyone who touches the equipment after the first child is at risk. However, several members of the Board did not agree with this, with one stating that “the closure of playground equipment might have the same kind of effect of closing restaurants in one community and not the other. If we close all of our [playgrounds] but they’re not closed in all the surrounding communities, we’re just in essence saying ‘don’t play here but go over there’, and we don’t want that. We want people to stay locally.” I completely disagree with this analogy. Closing restaurants affects people’s livelihoods, so there is economic reason to be cautious about such a decision. While it’s unfortunate to potentially close our playgrounds, I think this is a minor sacrifice in the grand scheme of what we’re facing, and I have no problem standing behind the decision to disappoint some kids by closing the playgrounds in the interest of protecting our community’s public health. As I said in the meeting, we can’t do anything about neighboring jurisdictions, but we can do what’s right for our residents – which is proactively say that your kids shouldn’t be playing on the playground, in Superior or anywhere else.
When it was my turn, I let the rest of the Board know that as I had emailed on Sunday March 15th, I want us to take a proactive stance rather than waiting for other authorities to take action when it comes to protecting the health of our residents. I suggested we consider issuing a shelter-in-place, officially closing the playgrounds, and sending a strong message to the community about isolating to stay safe. I made a motion that we schedule another special meeting to discuss Superior’s response to COVID19 and all the various actions we could take, as our next Board meeting will not be until April 13th (nearly a month away), and asked for someone to second that request. There were no takers at the time.
At the end of the meeting, a member of the Board asked that I email my specific ask to the full Board for consideration. Since we have not made it easy for the public to access Board emails, I preferred to reiterate my ask publicly in the meeting once more: “I’d like to have a discussion around actions that Superior can and should take to protect our residents independent of what the state and federal government is already doing. This is something that is affecting Superior residents and small businesses right now, and I would like to see us discuss as a board what we can do as soon as possible.” However, to my disappointment, no Board member seconded my request to have this discussion, so we do not currently have any plans to meet again until April 13th.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read / listen to this recap – I hope it is helpful! Our Board is always open to hearing your comments, questions, and concerns – you may always email your feedback to email@example.com, or to me specifically at firstname.lastname@example.org. As a reminder, any messages sent to a government email are part of the public record and will have your name attached; if you feel the need to write in anonymously, you may always comment at the bottom of my blog post recaps.