As one who frequently attends Baker City Council meetings, I was appalled at what I witnessed at the council meeting June 12.
The meeting was going along without incident until the item discussing the city’s budget came up for a vote. City Court Judge Kirk A. Williams raised his hand to be recognized, and proceeded to engage in a contentious dialogue with the mayor and the council about using surplus city funds to make up for a shortfall in the city budget.
Not only did the judge have heated words with the council and the mayor, he also had words with the police chief and others in the audience. The judge went so far as to suggest that the mayor and council should lay off workers, rather than use a fraction of the city surplus to fill in a shortfall in the budget.
The mayor and the council previously met several times to discuss the budget, and the judge was not at any of those meetings. I find it quite disturbing that at a time when many families are struggling to make ends meet — including family members who work for the city — the judge would suggest laying off people.
Perhaps the judge should recognize that any surplus that the city has is a result of the hard work and dedication of the very people he wants to punish. I applaud the mayor and the council for having compassion for individuals and their families by exploring other avenues and using layoffs as a measure of last resort.
I am uncomfortable with one elected official using a public forum to attempt to chastise other public officials who are also responsible to the citizens. Certainly as a citizen, Judge Williams has a right to voice his concerns; however, he had several opportunities to approach the mayor or any council member to discuss his concerns before the council meeting. I expect better of our elected officials and I hope the community does also.
Peron U. McCastle