May 21, 2022
The Pocatello City Council meeting held on Thursday, May 19, 2022, ended abruptly when two of the five members of the City Council (Council Member Stevens was absent) walked out.
The meeting ended shortly after a vote on the consent agenda. Council member Ortega was requesting that two items on the consent agenda, Material Claims and the Treasurer’s Report, be pulled for further discussion. Confusion set in almost immediately after Ortega made a motion to approve the consent agenda with the exception of those two items. Ortega later said she had indicated during an earlier work session that she intended to pull the two items. This motion was voted down by Council Members Cheatum, Leeuwrik, and Mansfield. Immediately thereafter, Council Member Cheatum moved, and Leeuwrik seconded, a motion to approve the entire agenda, including the two items Ortega wanted pulled.
After some back and forth regarding procedures and a question raised by Bray and answered by staff, Council Member Mansfield made a statement which appeared to be directed at his colleagues, Bray and Ortega. Mansfield said, “…I’m frankly appalled by the fact that we require staff to know this entire material claims report and pull them up, and then they have to say to you, ‘I’m not sure, let me get back to you,’ when we could have asked them well in advance for information to even, even if we want to ask it publicly I’m fine with that, but they could have been prepared for that and instead are required to try and come up with this on the fly and then get back to us. I, I hate the dance that we are doing of the material claims report week in and week out and I move that we approve agenda items a and b.” Following this statement, Leeuwrik immediately seconded the motion.
Mayor Blad called a vote on the motion. Cheatum, Leeuwrik and Mansfield voted yes, while Bray and Ortega abstained. Blad then said the motion passed, but Bray objected, saying this was a different outcome than had occurred at a prior meeting with abstentions.
More contention arose as Blad went forward with the agenda. Ortega and Bray were quietly conversing about what had happened when Blad chided them for interrupting the meeting.
Finally, Ortega packed up and walked out. After this, Bray and Blad got in a heated exchange, with Bray accusing Blad and the other City Council members of not allowing him or Ortega to participate effectively, after which he also walked out. At that point, without a quorum, the meeting ended.
You can watch the video footage of the meeting by clicking on the image, below: