Last night’s council meeting was mercifully short, due to a nearly empty agenda. But councilor Burrow managed yet another bizarre and offensive spectacle. First, what was lacking: any sort of apology for what she has put this city through over the past two weeks. The public comments, extending for nearly a half hour, were entirely delivered by residents seeking her removal or resignation, a situation which might have led less steely spined officials to introspection. Burrow remained unmoved. Rather, she claimed to be the champion of everyday Ferguson residents against “special interests” seeking to destroy her, and the city along with her.
The bizarre conduct continued as councilor Lipka again put forward the nomination of Stephen Robin to the Traffic Commission. Burrow, in a post on her political Facebook page, had indicated that her prior opposition to Robin was based upon privately conveyed information “of a personal nature” which she later discovered to be inaccurate. Rules required that one of the previous opponents make the motion to reconsider, so Lipka looked to Burrow for the motion. Inexplicably, Burrow declined to make the motion, dragging out the process for nearly four minutes, during which one angry resident stormed out of the council chambers. Ultimately, councilor Nelson moved to accept the nominee, after which Burrow promptly seconded the motion. The nomination was approved, with only councilor Noah and Mayor Jones voting in opposition.
Burrow then proceeded to make a request that the city “draft a letter to the Justice Department … to terminate the consent decree.” With neither prepared motion, nor having conferred with her colleagues prior to this public request, Burrow demanded that the council vote to direct Mr. Carey to draft such a letter. In a rare moment of agreement, councilor Lipka and Mayor Jones both echoed Carey’s statement that such a letter would be “shooting ourselves in the foot” at this point in the proceedings. Burrow was undeterred, but without a motion, to say nothing of a second, the matter was not considered. This sidebar took 14 minutes of council’s time, ending in an interrogation of Mr. Carey by councilor Burrow about whether his phone calls to the Department of Justice were on the city’s YouTube channel.
For the record, I am among the great multitude in Ferguson who wishes to be finished with the consent decree. But that isn’t accomplished by sending a letter to the Department of Justice. Rather, we must comply, and demonstrate our compliance in an organized and indisputable way. One way or another, our issues with the consent decree must be resolved soon, but this was the suggestion of a child, not an adult with an understanding of our situation.
This brought us to closing statements, of which Burrow delivered by far the longest. In her rambling and incomprehensible speech, extending for a full five minutes, Burrow claimed to be standing against unnamed “special interests” and blamed the recall on those seeking to punish her for doing the right thing. But her speech wasn’t the clarion call of a fighter for what is good and true, but rather, the confused, self-serving utterances of one of the worst elected officials our city has ever seen. Her performance last night, after the opportunity to reflect on her conduct for two weeks, served only to validate the drive to remove her from office.