Members of the Bellevue City Council appear to have caught the same bug that overtakes the United States Senate when some members forget that their job is to vet Cabinet appointees, not to select them.
Whether Bellevue Mayor Rita Sanders is blameless in this three-month power struggle is largely immaterial. What matters now is that she gave the council more than one opportunity to accept qualified appointees for an open council seat.
They say they rejected the selections because they want the people to decide. In reality, any mayoral appointment posed a threat to an informal voting bloc. It would have empowered the mayor to break 3-3 ties at a time of serious budget concerns. So a handful of council members gummed up the works, securing an October special election that stands a better chance of sending the council a replacement of like mind.
The cost to Bellevue residents and taxpayers is more than the $10,000 it’ll cost for a special election to replace a Ward 1 councilman. The council set a precedent that shows its members can hold up mayoral nominees for any political reason.
One day members of the group might need an appointee to get something done and have a mayor they want to do business with, but someone in opposition will have enough votes to stall the appointment.
That’s when chickens roost. Not to mention that the bloc’s actions make Bellevue City Hall — unfairly or not — seem dysfunctional.
Unfortunately, there appears little reason to hope for change from the council, not after members ignored their proper role in appointments, as described by Nebraska Secretary of State John Gale. (Their role is to act as a check on unqualified administrative appointees, not to express preferences.)
Here’s hoping the people of Bellevue, far beyond Ward 1, seek answers about the decision for a public vote and why a system for appointments to ensure representation of Ward 1 was disregarded.
They deserve as much.