Politics and foolishness

Just when we thought City Council meetings were becoming pleasantly civil affairs with much agreeableness across ideological and political lines, along comes Councilman Larry Wahl to shake things up again.

Wahl’s effort at the council’s Tuesday (April 3) meeting to bounce Planning Commission Chairman Jon Luvaas from his position created the most antagonistic discussion the new council has had thus far. (For an account, see Newslines, page 11.) We got to hear Councilman Steve Bertagna charge that Luvaas was “sucking the energy out of the second floor,” an especially vivid image referring to Planning Department offices at City Hall. And we got to hear Councilman Tom Nickell suggest that the attack on Luvaas was like the Salem witch trials.

Of course, it was “much ado about nothing,” as one speaker told the council. Luvaas hadn’t done anything wrong, as even a couple of the developers who addressed the council seemed to acknowledge, and Wahl and his conservative comrade-in-arms, Bertagna, clearly were scapegoating him for political reasons. Why they did so is hard to fathom, since they had no chance of prevailing and the whole thing just made them look foolish.

The discussion, with its expressions of outrage and indignation and interrupted expostulations, was certainly entertaining. And it may have underlined, to some extent, problems with the city’s planning process. But, as Mayor Andy Holcombe pointed out, these are already being addressed, so this effort to politicize the situation was really just a big waste of time and energy.