August 8, 2022
The following statement was read by Pocatello City Council Member Chris Stevens on behalf of Council Member Roger Bray during the August 4, 2022, City Council meeting.
“Unfortunately, I am unable to attend this evening because I have tested positive for Covid. I am willing to show my test to anyone questioning this truth.
Until the confrontational discussion, no one from the NAACP, the Mayor’s Office, the Council, the Fire Union, the Police Association or the Teachers’ Union reached out to me to express concern or seek clarification regarding my statements during the council meeting regarding police staffing and budget.
I have been charged and convicted and those accusing and condemning me do not care to hear what I have to say. The lack of concern for objectivity is staggering.
This resolution is intentionally constructed to hamstring me. If I were present to vote, I could not vote for the revised welcoming statement because I must recuse myself due to the censure being included in the same resolution. The new, revised welcoming statement and the resolution need to be separate issues.
I believe the censure attempt is the result of me questioning Police Department personnel expenditures during the budget development process. It is the same tactic used against Councilwoman Ortega a few years ago when the Police Chief tried to punish her for questioning his budget by filing a complaint against her husband with the US Marshall’s Service. The ensuing investigation found no basis for the Chief’s complaint.
The Chief stated in his COPS grant application that the influx of transient construction workers would increase the need for officers. Since Northgate has not boomed, I questioned whether we need the extra officers.
By the Chief’s own formula, perhaps we do not need the additional officers the grant provided and for whom the Pocatello taxpayers will shortly have to pay.
It is curious that nine or so police officers and the chief attended the council meeting when there was no police agenda item. It is equally curious that although no police officer spoke during the public comment period, they swarmed in on my private conversation with the two NAACP representatives who did speak after the meeting.
They overwhelmed our personal conversation, began talking in raised voices, and refused to let me finish a sentence – much less a thought.
They became increasingly hostile and aggressive rather than employing the de-escalation tactics they are taught as part of their taxpayer-funded training. The Chief, wearing his uniform, was shouting and waving his arms on the side– apparently egging them on.
One member of the police crowd accidentally revealed their plan when I couldn’t give an exact reference for something I had read. He said, “You didn’t come prepared, did you?” Why would I have come prepared for a confrontation I had no idea was being planned?
My use of the word “diverse “was intentional, knowing that the current accepted definition of “diversity” includes many issues beyond race such as gender, income level, educational background, urban or rural status, ethnicity, religion, culture, economic status, and more. It seems others have defined “diversity” differently for themselves. I would have gladly clarified my definition had they bothered to ask me.
Those who are condemning me repeatedly cut me off – refusing to let me finish my statements so they could twist my words to support their pre-planned agenda.
This maneuver is designed to deflect from the current important conversation on the table – our city budget. It saddens me to see a community I grew up in and have served for three decades fall victim to this situation.”