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First meeting not pleasant

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My Views

By Alex Wimsatt

    I recently had the displeasure of learning a valuable lesson first hand - politics can get very ugly.

    While covering a special meeting of Bullitt Fiscal Court I watched a hand full of county officials let their personal feelings get in the way of the people’s business as they bickered over issues that should’ve been discussed and resolved behind closed doors.

    Judge/Executive Melanie Roberts called the special meeting to discuss whether or not Fiscal Court wanted to take action to authorize her to send the proposed county budget to the state for consideration as to its form and content, which is required by state law.

    For years Bullitt Judge/Executives had sent their proposed budgets to Frankfort without any official action from Fiscal Court, but Judge/Executive Melanie Roberts’ office was told by folks from the Department for Local Government that there had to be a vote before she could send the budget to the state.

    There was legitimate disagreement over whether or not Fiscal Court was actually required to take any official action to send the budget, but as I saw it, all Fiscal Court members needed to do was either take a vote to authorize the Judge/Executive’s office to send the budget, or do nothing and have the Judge/Executive send the budget without any official action.

    What should’ve taken 15 minutes ended up taking almost an hour, ending with magistrates Joe Laswell and Ed Bleemel voting against taking official action and magistrates Buddy Shepherd and David Walker voting in favor of the motion. With the Judge/Executive’s vote the motion passed and it appeared the meeting was over.

    That’s when things got interesting.

    There was supposed to be a budget committee meeting after Fiscal Court considered authorizing the Judge/Executive to send the budget, but Laswell, who chaired the budget committee, cancelled the meeting at the last minute.

    Laswell said the budget committee meeting was cancelled because he and fellow committee member Walker were not ready to meet.

    Roberts, who had wanted to attend the meeting, felt the meeting was cancelled because Laswell didn’t want her there.

    The Fiscal Court chamber then became a three ring circus as Roberts, Laswell and Bleemel engaged in very public spectacle with each other and the audience.

    Administrative assistant Lisa Craddock of the Judge/Executive’s office jumped into the fray, commenting that the squabble made Fiscal Court look petty.

    Laswell said, “Whatever.” he went on, “So sorry.” Craddock replied, “You are sorry.”

    Soon after that Bleemel walked out of the meeting after making some snide comments, then Judge Roberts gave an unnecessary speech about transparent government and accountability to the people, which as I saw it,  amounted to little more than a desperate attempt to defend herself and save some of the embarrassment she and her fellow Fiscal Court members had caused themselves.

    Now I realize there are some conflicting personalities on Fiscal Court, but I have to ask, was that any way for a prominent government body elected by the people to conduct a meeting in public?

    I beg Fiscal Court members to please put their personal feelings toward one another aside, at least during public meetings. Fiscal Court members, you were elected to serve Bullitt County and to do that you must work together in a way that doesn‘t undermine the institution you all serve.

    Leave the circus to Ringling Brothers.