Virtual Town Board Meeting: September 28, 2020

Virtual Town Board Meeting: September 28, 20209 min read

Hi neighbors! In Monday night’s Town Board Meeting, we passed an ordinance requiring future Boards to fill vacancies with at least six months remaining on their terms; approved appointments to Advisory committees; discussed and dismissed the idea of moving back to in-person meetings; and held an executive session to receive legal advice on petition requirements, and to discuss the Town Manager and Town Attorney’s annual performance evaluations. Ready to find out more on what happened? As usual, you may read this post in written form, subscribe to the Laura for Superior podcast, 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 memgbers, 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 2D – Board Reports

During Board reports, several members of the Board expressed their thanks to the CAPS Committee and Town Staff for putting on a fantastic Park & Jam socially distant concert on the Town 15 this past Saturday.

We also discussed a few upcoming meetings and events: Tuesday night, our Board meets with the Boulder Valley School District Board at 5:30pm; on Friday, I will host another virtual edition of First Friday Coffee Chats at 7:45am. I would love to see many of you on Friday, in particular, and hope you will consider popping in for some informal Q&A!

On the election front, I would encourage everyone to research the six candidates running for three open seats on our Town Board – Gladys Forshee, Chris OchsMark LacisTim HowardPaige Henchen, and Kevin Ryan. On Wednesday afternoon, the Superior Chamber of Commerce will host their Face the Chamber: Superior Trustee Candidate Virtual Forum. On Thursday, the League of Women Voters of Boulder County will host their annual Candidate Forum, this year in virtual format. I would highly encourage everyone to visit the candidate websites, attend the events (or watch the videos afterward), and take the time to learn more before casting your ballot.

Item 3 – Consent Agenda

Next, our Board unanimously passed the entire consent agenda – including meeting minutes as well as grant applications for a trails master plan for the parcel formerly known as the Century Link property, a soft-surface connector trail in Autrey Park, and trailhead amenities at Oerman/Roche trailhead. We also approved the appointment of new members to our citizen advisory committees: Kate McCormick to CAPS; Kara Neuse and Tracey Bain to OSAC; and Marcia Van Eden, Jennifer Kaaoush, Hayley Goodstein, and Hollis Richardson to PROSTAC.

We pulled item 3E, an ordinance regarding vacancies to the Board of Trustees, for discussion. At the September 14th Board meeting, our Board asked for a Code update to include a specific time period on when a vacancy on the Board must be filled; item 3E proposed a new ordinance requiring the Board to fill by majority vote any vacancy with at least six months remaining on the term. I feel strongly that we should require the Board to fill any vacancies – we owe it to the people of Superior to have a full Board of seven people bringing perspective and making decisions. We discussed whether to shorten the proposed time limit on the ordinance, and so when a motion was made to require vacancies of 120 days or more to be filled, I voted no, hoping we could bring this down further. The motion to set the ordinance at 120 days ended up being a split 3-3 vote, underscoring my point that it would be beneficial if we had seven people on the Board to prevent a tie. However, in hindsight, I wish I had voted yes there, as a motion was then made to pass an ordinance requiring us to only fill a vacancy with six months or more left in the term. This motion passed 4-2, with Mayor Pro-Tem Mark Lacis and I as the dissenting votes.

Item 4 – ACES Committee Appointments

Our Advisory Committee for Environmental Sustainability (ACES) has one vacancy; we’ve interviewed four people for this position (Dave Pujdak, Gregory Patton, Miles Hoffman, and Kirsten Frysinger). We voted before the meeting, which resulted in a tie. We were asked before the meeting to vote again to break the tie, and Gregory Patton was selected to join ACES. Thank you to all who applied for your willingness to serve!

Item 5 – IGA with Rocky Mountain Fire Protection District

Over the past 1.5 years, Rocky Mountain Fire has been actively working on a potential merger with the Mountain View Fire District; the merger is moving forward and is expected to close on January 1 to consolidate the two districts and increase the efficiency of services. During agenda planning, we pulled this item from Monday night’s agenda to allow our Town Attorney to take more of our questions on negotiation to MVFD before our discussion. However, RMF Chief Mike Tombolato and MVFD Chief Dave Beebe were on hand to answer a few questions during reports.

Of personal interest to me, we had a resident question by email about increasing transparency by asking MVFD to film their meetings. Chief Beebe reported that MVFD started videotaping meetings about six months ago, but the technology isn’t that great; they have been working to improve it and explore new technology.

Item 6 – Discussion of In-Person Meetings

While the Board as a whole decided to hold our meetings virtually, two members of the Board asked the Town Manager if they could go back to meeting in person at Town Hall. The Town Manager suggested that this be discussed as a Board rather than done without the knowledge of everyone else, which is why it was on our agenda Monday night.

In the meeting, I vehemently expressed my opinion. The very beginning of our state order is “stay home as much as possible.” I believe that “as much as possible” doesn’t mean “let’s find reasons to go into a room together because we’re bored.” I think it’s absurd that we would consider going back to in-person meetings when we don’t have an actual reason to do so. I have yet to hear anyone report on something we have not been able to do virtually that we could accomplish by meeting in person, so to me, this is a solution looking for a problem. Participating virtually in our meetings does not require Zoom; anyone in the community can call into the meeting using a basic telephone. And if comfort with technology is truly the issue, we could solve for that with one-time classes and tutorials for residents who don’t know how to use Zoom – which would also open up possibilities for them to participate in other activities, and be a win-win.

One member of the Board stated that we could be just as safe at Town Hall as at home, but this is factually inaccurate. Masks are wonderful, and I want to be clear that I am a staunch advocate for everyone to be wearing them – but only when they need to take the risk of meeting others in person. Pretty much every scientist also says masks are not 100% effective at preventing the spread of COVID19. There may be differing opinions as to whether they are 40% or 70% or 90% effective, but I don’t think there are any medical experts who say they are 100% effective – so if we were to convene in person, we would be taking a risk. And again, I have yet to hear any reason we ought to take that risk.

If some members of the Board want to meet at Town Hall, I also want to point out that it is not simply their decision and risk – they would be forcing members of Town Staff to be present to clean and set up the room, film the meeting, manage admission of the public, clean the room again after, etc. I think it is a really bad look for us to be at Town Hall in person, when we should be setting an example for the community about “staying home as much as possible.”

Finally, a few members of the Board mentioned what other communities are doing. While I find peer comparisons interesting, I do not base my decisions on what other people are doing; I base them on doing the right thing. If we lived in Florida, where bars are open and operating at full capacity and masks are not required, I would not be sitting at a bar just because that’s what everyone else is doing.

Furthermore, when one member of the Board brought up that schools are beginning to reopen, I pointed out that you can’t compare apples to oranges. When there is a need to be in person (like kids who are struggling with remote learning), it may well be worth the risk. When medical workers were still going to work in hospitals in March, I did not take that as a sign that it was safe and acceptable for everyone to go to work in person; I was simply grateful that we had so many front line workers who took that risk to provide vital services that couldn’t be done virtually.

I think it’s really unfortunate that our federal, state, and local government has not been able to coordinate the strict response to COVID19 that other nations have implemented, and I would once again push for Superior to take the lead on our response rather than passively waiting to see what others do.

After discussion, the Board decided to continue with virtual meetings for the time being.

Item 7 – Executive Session

Finally, we went into executive session with our Town Attorney to receive legal advice on petition requirements, and to discuss the Town Manager and Town Attorney’s annual performance evaluations.

Wrap Up

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 townboard@superiorcolorado.gov, or to me specifically at lauras@superiorcolorado.gov. 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.

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