September 19, 2021

Pocatello Council Member Claudia Ortega (Photo Credit: Claudia Ortega for Pocatello FB Page)

At the Thursday, September 16, Pocatello City Council meeting, Mayor Brian Blad and Council Member Claudia Ortega had a testy exchange regarding the purported purchase of granite countertops and cabinets, part of a redecorating project, supposedly costing $9000 apiece, for City Staff offices.

The dispute began with Council Member Ortega stating she would vote no on approving the Treasurer’s Report, as, she said, “I have questions about the custom cabinets and the custom granite that was purchased for the office of the Public Works Director and from what I understand also for the office of the Police Chief.  I can’t imagine that at minimum $18,000 between those two redecorations of offices?  I can’t imagine that there was not better use of that money for the people of this city.  I really can’t.  And to me, that is exercising poor judgment and blatant disregard for the taxpayers.  And, that’s a huge, huge problem, huge problem for me, so I’m going to vote no.”

Pocatello Mayor Brian Blad (photo credit: City of Pocatello website)

Mayor Blad, in breaking the tie to approve the report, said, “I’m going to vote yes, but with an explanation that we did go through the process when you say granite and make it sound like its a big thing.  The cost was the same.  And we went through the bidding process for the Public Works Director’s stuff, and it made sense for the public to have that.”

At this point, Ortega interrupted the Mayor, saying, “9,000, that made sense for the public?”

Blad continued, “Let me finish.  It made sense, it made sense to do that.”

Ortega responded, “Question.  Did you approve that?  Question.  Did you…”

Blad continued, “I’m not answering that right now.  And it’s offensive that we have the idea that we don’t follow the policies that are in hand.  They’ve been there for decades.  We have followed them very, very good.  The department heads, the p card holders, our CFO, it’s offensive to me that we would question the integrity of all of our…”

Ortega again interrupted the mayor, saying, “The people sitting here, that $18,000 was spent on redecorating two offices.  That’s what’s offensive, Mayor.”

At this point, although Council Member Chris Stevens attempted to interject, the mayor stated that they had voted and would move on to the next agenda item, the reading of two proclamations.

You can watch the exchange between Blad and Ortega by clicking on the image, below.  Ortega’s comments begin just after minute 25:00.


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