I certainly hope Moe Baddourah read Warren Bolton’s column this morning, and took it to heart. Excerpts:
WHILE COLUMBIA City Councilman Moe Baddourah will take his first formal vote at today’s council meeting, it’s doubtful that many of his official votes loom as large as an unofficial decision he made following a May 8 public hearing.
That was the day he back-tracked on what had been a strong stance in favor of allowing voters to decide whether the city should change its form of government from council-manager to strong mayor. Up until then, it seemed evident that when Mr. Baddourah and Cameron Runyan joined the council — they both were sworn in last week — the seven-member body would have a majority in favor of putting strong mayor on the ballot.
As a matter of fact, some had questioned whether the council seated in May should even have voted, knowing that it could make a decision very different from what the new council that assembles today would make. It was generally thought that there was a 4-3 split against strong mayor at that time…
When Mr. Baddourah visited with our editorial board prior to the April city elections, he was emphatic in saying that Mayor Steve Benjamin needed more authority. “I think Columbia is ready for that,” he said.
“We need a (full-time) mayor for the city to bring business in,” Mr. Baddourah said. “I’d love for Benjamin to be a full-time mayor. I think he’s a really good face for the city.”
So, imagine my surprise as I watched the public hearing, held during a council meeting, live online only to see Mr. Baddourah do a 180 when he and Mr. Runyan were put on the spot as to how they might vote once they joined the council.
Maybe it was the pressure of the moment. Or maybe he genuinely changed his mind. Whatever the case, it was abrupt and damaging to the effort to allow voters to have a say as to what form of government they choose to live under…
I’m not much of one for campaign promises. I generally think candidates should keep their options open for what they encounter in office. I even think when they do make the mistake of promising something, they should be free to change their minds — as long as they can make a good case for it.
But come on. In this case, Moe had just been elected, and had been elected not only indicating he’d support letting voters decide, but asserting strongly that he favored a certain outcome from that public vote.
And then, without having been through any discussion or other discernment process that was visible to the voters, he announces that he won’t even let the voters themselves decide the issue, and does it before he even takes office? Really?
It’s as shocking and as sudden and as premature a turn-around as I’ve ever seen.
This is indeed a case in which a mind so easily changed should carefully consider changing back. And then he should explain fully to the people who elected him what caused him to make such a strange announcement between the election and taking office.