After a long Council meeting with many twists and turns, the City Council vote 11-2 to protect the Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator position!
Thank you to Council Members Gordon, Schiff, Hodges, and Lilligren for speaking thoughtfully in support of the position.
Thank you to Council Members Gordon, Reich, Hofstede, Schiff, Lilligren, Tuthill, Quincy, Glidden, Goodman, Hodges, and Samuels for voting to protect the important position.
Thank you to the 15 people who came down to the hearing today to show your support. Thank you to the hundreds of people who contacted your Council Member in support of the position. The calls really made a difference on what became an emotional and difficult vote brought about because of an unfortunately either/or situation created out of nothing but bad timing.
You can see my log of the morning after the jump if you want to live the rollercoaster!
8:50–get on my bike to head down to City Hall. A little humid for dress pants, but a beautiful day!
9:20–they unlock the Chamber and I head in with a few other bicycle supporters and about 30 firefighters
9:45–we hear rumblings that a compromise will be presented and that it likely won’t include cutting bike/ped coordinator
9:48–Council meeting starts a little late; room is full with about 15 bicyclists and 50 firefighters. Mood is tense despite early applause for donated dog beds for city shelter.
9:50–Compromise proposal is added to the agenda by Council Member Hodges. Still no word on details. Will this mean that we won’t even have to vote on bike/ped coordinator today?
10:15–Lots of media here: WCCO, Fox9, two other cameras, Star Tribune, SW Journal. Everyone waiting as Council goes through unanimous votes on committee actions.
11:00–A vote to override veto and direct contingency funds fails to reach threshold needed. Strangely, 2/3 of the firefighters leave after this vote. There is much more to come. Now will see what positions will be cut…
11:05–Hodges introduces comprise position that cuts about 12 currently unfilled positions to fund 4 firefighters through 2012. Doesn’t seem to include bike/ped coordinator.
11:20–Or does it include the coordinator? No, cut to Public Works is for another engineering position. Damn these cuts are too bad. When bike/ped coordinator is brought up, I unfortunately hear some scoffing that just shows how unfortunately the polarization has become. This is a safety engineer!
11:25–Everyone–including finance staff–are struggling to get a handle of what everything means. These are tough choices.
11:40–Compromise passes unanimously. Are we done? Is Council Member Johnson going to remove her proposal?
11:45–No, after some discussion, Johnson’s proposal to eliminate four positions, including the bike/ped coordinator is brought forward. Nervous energy is building now.
11:55–Council Member Gordon speaks against the package as does the Mayor. It seems we’re headed very quickly to a vote on the full package. Wow, that was sudden!
12:00–First vote passes 7-6. Did we lose?!? No, it turns out that was to eliminate a position in the communications department. They are taking the votes one position at a time. A moment of panic there.
12:15–Second position brought forward is not cut, but third is. Bike/ped coordinator is next and could be close.
12:20–Council Member Gordon offers that coordinator is about public safety and shares sad facts about bike/ped crashes and fatalities.
12:20–Council Member Colvin Roy expresses her support walking and biking and thanks BAC, but says that she supports cutting at this time although she doesn’t think this a way of saying that bike/ped isn’t important.
12:25–Council Member Schiff says that these tough times mean that we have to think about what is essential and what is nice to have. With growing number of bicyclists and streets that were generally built in the 50′s for cars, there is much more to do for bike/ped safety and this position is essential for making that happen.
12:25–Council Member Hodges says that this position is essential because it makes bike/ped coordination a priority for one person rather than having it as a small part of 4 different jobs. This position is about public safety and efficiency. Well said.
12:30–Council Member Lilligren speaks in strong support of coordinator and talks about important upcoming budget discussions.
12:35–Vote is 11-2 in favor of protecting the position! Whew!
12:40–Everyone is still anxiously looking around to see if something else is going to come up. I get called out to talk to Fox 9. After one last vote on moving contingency funds to fill gap, they move onto announcements.
12:55–Meeting adjourns. I talk briefly with the head of the firefighters union, who says that he supports the public safety improvements that the bike/ped coordinator will bring. I thank him and the other firefighters for their work to help keep us all safe. Definitely no hard feelings, which is good.
1:00–Nerves are still a little shaken, but get to thank some Council Members and then a nice ride back home knowing that soon we’ll have a coordinator that will help us take the next step forward to safer streets for people who choose to walk and bike.