The Great Bend City Council meets at 7:30 p.m. Monday at the City Office, 1209 Williams first to hold the 2018 budget hearing. Then, the regular meeting will be held at the Great Bend Events Center, 3111 Kansas. The agenda includes naming an acting city administrator, the Together as a Community United We Stand Parade, the 2018 budget ordinance and the HVAC system at the Crest Theater.
It was the meeting that wasn’t.
The Great Bend City Council had called a special meeting for Friday night in the wake a whirlwind shake-up this week at City Hall. There was City Administrator Howard Partington’s sudden retirement and Ward 2 Councilman Wayne Henneke’s resignation Wednesday, both amid the ongoing controversy pitting the city against suspended Police Chief Cliff Couch.
The city had prepared the Events Center for an anticipated large crowd. And a large crowd came.
However, only four council members showed up, including Mike Boys, Dana Dawson, Cory Zimmerman and Brock McPherson. That didn’t cut it.
In order for a governing body to conduct business, a quorum (one more than half) is required. In the case of the eight-member council, that is five.
It was Dawson who broke the news to those gathered. “We don’t have a quorum. Unfortunately, we can’t have a meeting.”
The announcement met with contemptuous laughter from the frustrated audience.
“It figures,” someone shouted.
“Thank you Joel Jackson,” someone else said, referring to Councilman Jackson who had indicated he would attend.
“That’s not right.”
After the meeting was canceled, many of those present went up to the stage and visited council members. Others broke into small groups and lamented “politics as usual.”
“I think its pretty chicken for some of the council to not show up,” one spectator told the Great Bend Tribune. Although he wasn’t surprised, “I think it’s pretty sad.”
But, “now is the time for us to come together as a community and take positive action,” said Bryan Harris. Now it is time for Great Bend to heal.
“Now comes the hard work,” Harris said. Trust in city government must be rebuilt and transparency must be fostered.
The agenda was a short one. It included action on “vacancies in key administrative and executive positions,” the election of a new council president to replace Henneke and discussion of a forensic city audit.
Now, these have to wait.
The council will next meet Monday night.
There is a scheduled city budget hearing at 7 p.m. Monday at the City Council chambers, 1209 Williams St. But, the venue for the council’s regular meeting was changed to the Events Center, 3111 10th St. The regular meeting will start at 7:30 p.m.
In relation to the controversy, the naming of City Attorney Bob Suelter as the action city administrator is on the agenda.
“Please come back Monday,” Boys said.
“Thank you gentlemen,” some said to the council members present.