Is The Barn Empty?

August 29, 2005

If you thought you heard a train whistle last Tuesday night, it was the Chattanooga Moo Moo conducted by the Woodside Town Council. The council members gave lip service to their preference for an early election, but hid behind the $20,000 cost of a special election being too high, with more important uses for this money. A citizen publicly offered to contribute $10,000 towards an April election and the Town Attorney said it was permissible but the Council ignored the offer. Despite there being several well qualified candidates, they appointed and swore in insider Ron Romines to a 2+ year term. We are outraged that they deprived the citizens of Woodside of an opportunity to have a contested election so that the issues could be debated and the candidate be chosen by us, the voters.

We need to point out that it appears to have been a carefully orchestrated shut- out. The timing of the Dave Tanner resignation 1 day too late for the seat to be included in the coming election seems carefully planned to avoid public participation and to deprive Woodside residents the chance to elect Town representatives.

Unfortunately, all of the candidates running for the open positions this fall are running unopposed. Unopposed! We know there are plenty of people out there with strong feeling about the town who should be proud to serve. We’d run ourselves, but we’re a bit tied up with all this cud we have to chew. Besides, it takes a long time to type these out with our hooves.

The lack of an election with opposition means the lack of debate on the issues, therefore, we challenge the candidates and Mr. Romines to share their views on what is important to them and what they want to accomplish with Town and with the citizens of Woodside by posting their positions on issues here on COW.

No Bull: Below, check out the list of candidates from the Registrar of Voters website. Also, before the meeting, the Almanac did a story on the vacancy.

Update: We were mistaken in the story above, it was actually a few days, not one day. We regret the error and thank Mr. Pinkerton for calling it to our attention in the comments below.

0 Comments on “Is The Barn Empty?

  1. Bulls' Horns

    We can’t seem to get people in there with common sense. What happened to common sense around here?

  2. Not surprised

    Why I am not surprised? When did this town start taking classes from Karl Rove? I have heard about some bad dealings at the towns planning and building department, even experiencing some of it myself. I should have realized it went all the way to the Council then.

  3. Brian Pinkerton

    While I agree that it has the appearance of having been orchestrated, according to an earlier Almanac story,Tanner’s decision to resign came 9 days after the last date that the council could have acted to fill his seat in an election. Where do you get the 1 day figure?

  4. But still...

    Still, even if it was a few days, the article says he told them in March that he was leaving. Then it says they were shocked that he announced it. That doesn’t make sense.

  5. Not surprised

    Additional point here, why did they appoint someone instead of having an election?

  6. Brian Pinkerton

    Several members of the public (not counting the candidates) spoke at the meeting. By my count, five expressed a desire to defer an appointment (thereby keeping the electoral playing field level), while two expressed a desire for an immediate appointment and a later election. These two were also in favor of appointing Romines.

    The council, in deciding to go ahead with an appointment, cited two primary reasons for doing so: the desire to avoid the cost of a special election in April (approximately 18-20K), and the desire to take advantage of the fact that they had three qualified candidates available (although one could tell that most of the council had already made their choice.)

    Basically, if you were at the meeting you had to be blind not to see that the council was strongly in favor of Romines based on his history in Woodside and support of the status quo. By appointing him, they went for the 100% certainty that they’d have him on the Council for over two years, rather than take the chance that he would (a) run in April and (b) win the election. The fact that he probably does not represent the majority of those in his district was evident only to Mayor Goeld, who cast the sole vote for Susan Doherty.

    I think there are two important lessons in this. First, however painful it is, we can’t let these guys run the Town without getting in their faces. If they make stupid decisions we need to call them on it and force them out in the next election. Second, we need to play the game their way: attend meetings, speak frankly, write PAPER letters, and let them know there are more like us.

  7. Brian Pinkerton

    Also, for what it’s worth, at the last Town Council meeting Dave Tanner spoke (as a citizen) in favor of having an election on April 22, 2006. He specifically mentioned that he thought it was a bad idea for the Council to appoint someone in the interim because of the advantage it would give them in any upcoming election.

  8. Trail Rider

    It sure sounds like a Karl Rovian orchestration to me. The public just couldn’t see the winks Tanner was making when he advocated an election.

  9. Hill Hugger

    Leaving aside the apponitment vs. election issue for a moment, I am curious re: Brian Pinkerton’s remarks that the Council appointed Ron Romines “based on his history in Woodside and support for the status quo.” It would be helpful to those of us less attentive what his “history” is and what is thought to be his “agenda”. Perhaps you could provide an executive summary to bring the rest of us up to speed.

  10. Active Citizen

    I think you have watched the movie “Conspiracy Theory” a few too many times. As some famous person once said, everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts. Lets look at your rant and separate the two (which it would have been nice for you to do).

    You labeled Ron Romines an “insider”. Give me a break. As far as I know, Ron has never served on the town council, planning commission, ASRB, or done any legal work for the town or any of the councilmembers. So how can he be an “insider”? What he is is a 20+ year resident of the glens that was involved with a volunteer group of Glens residents that put together the Glens specific plan about 15 years or so ago. In my book, that makes him pretty damn qualified to serve on the council and represent the interests of the Glens residents. None of the other candidates had as much going for them. I’m not saying they were not qualified, just that Ron brought allot more to the table. I’m guessing one of the other candidates was your favorite and this is just sour grapes. If so, say so, but don’t use pejorative adjectives like “insider” to describe someone who just plain isn’t. Ron’s answers on what is best for the town were pretty much the same as each of the other candidates. He just had more years in the town and had previously shown the most active interest in making changes that benefited his neighborhood.

    You then go on to rant about Dave Tanner’s resignation, quoting another incorrect “fact” about when he resigned. Dave resigned immediately after he sold his house. While the council (and the town, since he announced it in a public meeting) knew Dave’s house was on the market, we did not decide when it actually sold. It was Dave’s right to stay on the council until he sold his house, which is what he did. If you want to make this into another conspiracy theory, then come up with some real evidence. For the rational folks out there, I was witness to the process and it was Dave’s sole decision when to vacate his seat. It is unfortunate that he did not do so sooner, but that was his choice, not anyone elses.

    You then rant on about having only one candidate running for each of the available council seats. So go put your name down and run for council if you want more choices. Three elections ago there were 9 candidates vying for 4 seats, and three out of the four incumbents got defeated. The system only works if people choose to run. Stop bitching by making up your own false “facts” and get involved by running for office. Maybe then you can appreciate the fact that the council are all unpaid volunteers working to change a well entreanched bureaucracy that was put in place before any of the sitting council members ran for office. Change takes time and help from fellow citizens. My involvement came as a result of my frustration with the building and planning department many years ago. Unfortunately, my frustrations have not gotten much better. But at least I am volunteering to try to make a difference. Come forward with ideas and time. They go allot farther than rants based on false data.

  11. Anonymous

    Active Citizen we are very pleased that you are willing to enter into the community dialog. COW welcomes all views. We are particularly pleased that you share our frustration with the building and planning department. We would sure like to also hear the views of all of our council members. And, we hope you will come to appreciate the ability to learn the candid views of many citizens of Woodside on this website.

    But hold your horses – in our opinion Ron Romines is an “insider”. Here are some of the facts upon which we base that opinion. By “insider,” we mean one of the vocal minority in our community who consistently are opposed to letting other folks develop and improve their property. Please understand, we support strong and consistently applied regulations to preserve the wonderful and unique character of our town; but by opposing virtually all development and improvement these insiders threaten the ongoing vitality of the town.

    As far back as 1974, Council member Romines opposed the Forest Glade Estates Subdivision. In the 80’s, he spoke against Meadow Vista Subdivision. In 1993, he co-chaired the Woodside Glens Specific Plan which restricted size and growth on property. In 1994, he spoke against a neighbor’s variance although all the other neighbors (6) except Dave Tanner spoke in favor of the variance. In 1997, he spoke against easing setback requirements on certain constrained properties. Also in 1997, on the Ad Hoc Sewer Committee, he was against allowing certain properties access to sewer hookups.

    However, let’s not lose sight of the fact that our point was that there should have been an election. There were willing and able candidates. It would have provided a vehicle for debate. In a contested election, the entire community might been able to learn if Ron Romines shares your frustration with the building and planning department or supports the view common in this community that the Town is an obstacle when you try to make improvements to your home.

    As to Dave Tanner, our beef is that he knew that he was not going to run far enough in advance that he could have resigned earlier and invited an open election. We base our facts on the following. The Almanac reported that Council member Tanner announced on March 8, 2005 (as reported here in the Almanac on March 16) that he was buying a new home and that he would resign by June. Public records show that his new house was listed as sold on the multiple listings as of 2/18/2005 and the Grant Deed closing the transaction was signed and witnessed by notary public on June 3rd. According to an article in the Almanac article of Aug 3, 2005, he did not resign until July 26, 2005. Of course, the timing of his resignation was his right and his choice. Our point is that had he chosen to resign earlier there might well have been a contested election and Mr. Romines may or may not have been elected. No – Active Citizen, we did not have a favorite candidate. Without an election, we herd no debate on the issues. It was a Moo-t point.

  12. Active Citizen

    Just because you disagree with Ron’s views on development does not make him an “insider”. I have personally taken very different positions on the issues you mentioned than Ron has, so does that make me a “non-insider”? All I ask is that you don’t use words like “insider” to disparage the whole council when you are referring to someone whose opinions you disagree with.

    As for Dave Tanner, I’m glad you are finally agreeing with me that the timing was Dave’s choice, not a conspiracy of the council to take away choice from the Glens. I’m as disappointed as you are about the poor timing, but please keep the blame focused on where it belongs and not make unsubstantiated insinuations.

    I think this forum would be most useful if citizens were encouraged to make suggestions about how to make the process work better, especially in building and planning. We have enough complaints to go around. What we lack are new ideas and support for them.

  13. OutOfTown

    As the ultimate outsider here (I share a Woodside address, but neither town services nor the right to be represented in town matters), I can’t help but take note of the above definition of “insider”.

    In my book, an insider is someone who because of established relationships with the ruling bureaucracy is able to gain advantage over others in order to move a special interest agenda forward.

    It seems to me that your definition above of “insider” as being somebody who appears not to be pro-development is really just another way of saying that you think that an insider is any person who happens not to share your point of view. I find it interesting that you would establish your user name as “Citizens of Woodside”, as though by virtue of establishing a forum which gives you anonymous ability to post your views and control the agenda of discussion (as sole topic editor with sole politburo power to censor postings) that you have gained the right to speak for the entire town.

    I have to admit that I have misgivings about this particular approach. I think that it is very easy to chuck rocks at the citizen representatives who are working for a better Woodside, whatever their perspective may be. There’s a reason that newspapers don’t allow anonymous letters to the editor. Still, I think that anonymous forums can work out have the advantage of fostering open discussion.

    On the other hand, I think that concept of having an anonymous editor is seriously flawed and ultimately will render the enterprise Moo-T.

    That said, I like your graphics and the hol(y) cow theme is cute; I just hope it works out to be a community resource but from what I have seen thus far it appears to be a forum for expressing one point of view without any accountability.

  14. Citizens Of Woodside

    Active Citizen – we created this blog to provide a forum for and you all citizens of Woodside to to make suggestions about how to make the process of our Town government work better, especially in building and planning. In fact the Moo-sing section is there so people can raise topics that we have not raised. We do not happen to think Council member Tanner’s choice was accidental or coincidental. You are free to disagree. However, we think it important for all of us to air and share our beefs and our beliefs. We are welcoming all views whether or not we happen to agree with them or not.

  15. Not surprised

    I have watched the movie “Conspiracy Theory” and did enjoy it as entertainment but anyone in the U.S. conscious (at least part of the time)within the last 5+ years should not use that as a tag line.

  16. Guy du Vache

    I write in response to OutOfTown – I am not sure I agree with COW’s definition of “insider” but I agree that Ron Romines is an insider. He has been closely associated with members of the current and past councils.

    I write anonymously because like many others in this town I am concerned about repercussions. That is exactly why I joined COW. Hopefully, one day we all feel comfortable in Woodside expressing our views openly.

    Guy du Vache

  17. Annoyed

    If I hear one more statement that has “we/they are just volunteers or we/they don’t get paid for this” in it I will scream. Volunteer or not people are accountable for their actions period.

  18. Also active

    Active citizen, the Council did make a conscious decision to deny the people of the Glens a voice by not allowing an election.

  19. TM

    Reading the articles “above” (out to pasture and steer in the right direction) it seems there are already good constructive ideas that will improve our Town’s permits department and its process. I think staying on the right track and implementing the suggestions in these reports would be a good start.

  20. Jersey girl

    It’s a little off topic but I wanted to comment on the statement from OutofTown who said “On the other hand, I think that concept of having an anonymous editor is seriously flawed and ultimately will render the enterprise Moo-T.”
    Personally, I think it far worse to have a “known” editor that only allows letters or stories that fit along with the editors or reporters idea of what should be printed (or perhaps compliments an agenda) than to have an “unknown” editor that allows differing opinions. As mentioned by Not Surprised above, the last 5 years have been eye opening and down right scary especially where it concerns the news industry and its reporting (or non-reporting) of stories. It’s much more important to me to hear about things such as the fact someone had offered to pay ten thousand to help defray the election costs and yet this was not taken into consideration NOR was it mentioned in the Almanac story on the subject. That seems to be a very big omission to that Almanac article and makes me wonder about that editor and whether I am getting “sanitized” news from that paper.
    I like this system, it allows for a much more even handed and democratic system of communication especially for those fearing repercussions or hard feelings from either friends, neighbors or the Town because they do not agree. I feel that opening dialog will be the first step in getting people involved and working together.

  21. betternotknown

    Jersey Girl…I agree!! I agree with the anon. editor…the politics of Woodside can be stifling, onerous and irrational!!! And the Planning Dept (amongst others) is far to influenced by it,..and makes some horrible planning and management decisions because of it–resulting in our high level of litigation!

  22. if only

    If only the change of a planning commissioner could fix the planning dept then all this might make more valuable…but the truth is the problems start waaaaay before the planning comm gets anything–it in the overly political city manager and town planners offices..where the lack of leadership is mind numbing…

  23. Also active

    Jersey Girl, I couldn’t have said it better. And betternotknown after attending a number of public meetings over the last few years I believe you are on target as well. The problem is that unless the general population of Woodside gets involved we are going to have this situation. People need to see for themselves what decisions are being made for them in this town and they need get involved, it’s so important! A first step may be as simple as insisting on live computer or cable feeds of the various public meetings as other cities do.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *