Those of us who attended Tuesday’s City Council meeting, or watched it on TV, learned one thing: Council is mad, mad, mad! In fact, they’re MAD  AS  HELL, and they’re not going to take it anymore!

Who are they mad at? Our honorable Mayor Steve Bach, whom they characterize as contemptuous, dismissive and unyielding when he refuses to let Council usurp administrative functions that belong in his domain.

With many a pained grimace and an abundance of crocodile tears, Council President Keith King condemned Mayor Bach for his “unlawful” acts, and accused him of failure to bow to the rule of law. Pledging fealty to the U.S. Constitution, the Colorado Constitution and the City Charter, King announced that Council would ask a court to make a declaratory judgment on the matter, which would presumably settle things once and for all.

A declaratory judgment can be defined as “the legal determination of a court that resolves legal uncertainty for the litigants.” In this case, the dispute appears to center on Bach’s refusal to honor Council’s claim that there are 12 separate city departments, not five as Bach claims. Council twice has sought to impose its view on the administration by overriding Bach’s veto, but Bach has refused to honor the overrides.

Following the most recent override, Bach sent a letter to Council characterizing the override as “null and void,” and said that he would ignore the vote. In other words, get lost!

“Though Council has the power to pass an annual appropriation ordinance,” Mayor Bach wrote, “it cannot then interfere with the administration of the appropriated funds either explicitly or implicitly by crafting creative language and mechanisms in the appropriation ordinance that would restrict the Mayor’s exercise of legitimate executive authority.”

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It’s not at all clear that the administration would cooperate with King and his Council allies in jointly seeking a declaratory judgment. It’s equally unclear whether the administration could be forced to abide by any such decision — it’s not as if Council could seize control of the police force and arrest the mayor and his minions.

So what is the dispute really about?

Remember what Jerry Seinfeld said when a network exec asked him what his eponymous show was about?

“It’s about nothing,” Seinfeld replied.

[pullquote]You can go on being jailhouse lawyers, you can complain about the system all you want.[/pullquote]This dispute is about power. King and his colleagues bitterly resent the mayor’s extensive powers under the City Charter. They believe that Bach is arrogant, uncooperative, power-mad and intransigent.

If he is, so what? Mayor Bach holds all the cards in this particular poker game. He can interpret the City Charter as he pleases because,  as George W. Bush once said of himself, Bach is The Decider.

King doesn’t like it. Never mind that the number of city departments is a purely administrative function, and that city government runs more smoothly and efficiently without having to ask Council’s permission to transfer funds among 12 departments. The Council president and his allies just want to have the power to delay, alter or refuse as many administrative transfers as possible. Cats want catnip, dogs want bones and veteran politicians like King want power.

Years ago, when King served as a Republican state legislator, he gave newly elected Democratic Rep. Michael Merrifield a chilly welcome.

“How does it feel to know that none of your bills have any chance of passing?” King asked Merrifield.

Just as Chicago Bears linebacker Mike Singletary might have said “Welcome to the NFL!” after sacking a rookie quarterback, King was letting Merrifield know who was boss.

Council wants to change things. Many of them want to hire and fire their own employees, have their own attorney, change the city’s administrative structure and strip power from the mayor. They’re fond of referring to the “so-called strong mayor system.” They want to be the bosses.

Wake up, Dudes! The voters opted to change the system because they were fed up with Council. No one cares about you, least of all the voters.

You can go on being jailhouse lawyers, you can complain about the system all you want, but it won’t do you any good. Bach may not be in office six months hence, but do you think that Amy Lathen, John Suthers or Mary Lou Makepeace will back down and let you run the show?

They’ll look you in the eye, smile and make nice. But they’ll convey a simple, understandable message.

Welcome to the NFL.


  1. I have the following comments:
    1. the voters approved the strong mayor system, so what is city council doing trying to reverse our decision to implement such rule.
    2. Granted our mayor is not the best in including others in decision making but then we as the voters have the chance to elect a leader in a few months who will do a better job in that department.
    3. We as the citizens should be disgusted on what these clowns are doing to our city and 1. elect a better mayor and 2. start a recall campaign and get the worst offenders in city-council out of office (to name a few starting with Mr. King, Mr. Knight and the worst had the savings grace and resigned already)

  2. Why would you want to include others (City Council) in any opportunities to discuss initiatives, ordinances, etc. when you absolutely know Keith King and others on the Council are not receptive to anything? And I mean anything they haven’t thought of. If it’s not their idea, then there is no hope for any dialogue….ever! Whoever is voted in as Mayor this coming April is not going to have any easier road. Currently we have two Mayors – Mayor Bach and Mayor King.

  3. Voters brought in a Council Mayor form of government. Read the Charter and the ballot language placed in front of the voters. Now that Mayor Bach is gone John Suthers will need to get rid of some bad seeds. Please fire Steve Cox, Kara Skinner, Kathleen Krager, Craig Blewitt. Improve the City’s communication department and encourage voters to get rid of Merv Bennett, Val Snider and Jill Gaebler.

  4. Seriously!?! You have got to be kidding! The ones that need to be removed from City Council are Helen Collins, Don Knight and Andy Pico. These three have no desire to move anything forward, they have absolutely no vision and they never offer any viable solutions when they oppose projects. Helen Collins is just Doug Bruce’s puppet. Joel Miller stepping down was an early holiday gift.

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