An Arrogant And Out Of Touch City Commission

Doing some research recently on the local CDBG funding debacle I came across a couple of interesting exchanges from the June 20, 2017 Great Falls City Commission meeting which illustrates why so many folks consider our current city commission to be so out of touch with citizens.

In this first short video Commissioner Bronson is in the midst of a long-winded legal explanation as to why it’s okay for him to not have to follow the clear, unambiguous rules that are laid out in HUD guidelines. The rub here is that Bronson then calls on City Attorney Sexe to publicly validate and corroborate his justification for engaging in a blatant conflict of interest regarding the allocation of taxpayer funds.

Now take a look at another exchange between a citizen, Mr. Haffner, and Mayor Kelly that occurred at the same meeting just minutes later. Here, Mr. Haffner attempts to ask Ms. Sexe a question clarifying a legal matter but is immediately corrected by the mayor and told to direct his questions to the Commission, not Ms. Sexe.

So a city commissioner can direct a city employee in a public meeting to inform the public how justified that commissioner is in allocating our money to an organization his son works for but a citizen can’t ask that same city employee a question?

Have these people forgotten who works for who? Maybe it’s because of some kind of silly protocol but it sure comes across as arrogant and unfair.

Mr. Bronson, Mr. Kelly, Ms. Sexe and all the others up there are servants not lords. Their Cadillac city health insurance, salaries, and even the big table and fancy black chairs they’re perched on are paid for by citizens like Mr. Haffner. Like you and me.

Posted by Rick Tryon

Rick Tryon is an entrepreneur, a singer-songwriter, and is currently serving a four year term as a Great Falls City Commissioner. Helping Montana become an even greater place to live, play and work is Tryon's passion.

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15 Replies to “An Arrogant And Out Of Touch City Commission”

  1. Their entitlement of our income is nauseating. Their arrogance and dismissive nature as a public servant is scary.


  2. Rick Tryon said “So a city commissioner can direct a city employee in a public meeting to inform the public how justified that commissioner is in allocating our money to an organization his son works for…..”

    That is a gross misstatement of what happened in the actual footage you posted. Bronson did not direct her to do what you state. In fact, he did not direct her at all. His actual quote was “I believe you can advise the public….”

    This is not to say that the optics of these meetings aren’t ugly at times because they are. However, why make inflated statements that don’t jibe with the posted facts?

    In regards to the correction made to the speaker in the 2nd video, the information provided to him was correct. Questions should be directed to the commission.


    1. This analysis is technically correct. Questions should be directed to the Commission.

      I have to ask, though, Rick: does anything preclude the Commissioners from behaving in a more citizen-friendly fashion and asking that their constituents’ inquiries be responded to by Staff?

      What would be the harm in doing so?


    2. I mean, wasn’t that part of the case for Kelly over Winters a few years ago? That Winters wasn’t friendly to the public but Kelly was? Kelly could have at least pretended to care about Citizen Haffner’s question, but instead, he was a d*ck. Had it been a progressive speaker rather than the conservative Haffner, here’s guessing Kelly’s response would have been 100% different. But Bob Kelly is a partisan Democrat, so it wasn’t.


    3. Hey Rick, or whatever your real name is, allow me to offer a little piece of advice – you seem intelligent and articulate but those fine qualities are negated here because you have no credibility due to your anonymity. It’s real easy to cruise by and pop off from behind your invisible cloak, hiding your agenda and identity, but it takes cajones and integrity to make your points using your real identity. You get zero respect from me because you show zero respect for others by hiding.

      In addition you are totally incorrect and I stand by my 100% accurate piece here, it is neither a “gross misstatement” nor an “inflated statement” as you incorrectly claim, as if you just saying so makes it true. LOL.

      Of course Bronson directed Sexe to back up his BS about how it’s okay for him to engage in conflicts of interest. It’s right there in full audio/video splendor for anyone with a lick of common sense to behold. He passed the baton right to her and she took it and ran with it. It was also obviously pre-planned, she had the prepared statement ready to go.

      This is all so obviously designed and coordinated you have to be blind or willfully ignorant not to see it. This episode is a prime example of why city commission meetings are so poorly attended. Folks understand the game being played here.

      Also, there is no good reason why a tax paying citizen shouldn’t be able to ask a simple one sentence question of the city attorney who is sitting right there in front of him at a public meeting.


  3. Hi R – Nothing precludes anyone from being more friendly but without seeing the rest of the conversation it is hard to know what transpired next and if he actually was a d*ck to the gentleman or if he simply corrected him and they moved on.

    Regardless of anyone’s political leanings we need more respect and civility in general. Heck, I would argue that if an individual is a strident partisan that they should bend over backwards to be respectful of differing views.


    1. “Heck, I would argue that if an individual is a strident partisan that they should bend over backwards to be respectful of differing views.”



  4. Michael J Winters March 22, 2018 at 1:15 PM

    Lets hold on here for moment, shall we ? I was very friendly to the citizens-often giving more time than that was allowed. I was considerate and just. I called a spade a spade and to those who were constantly running down our community I would not tolerate not then and not now. We had a good and responsive commission, we listened and acted according to the rules and good for our community. Mayor Kelly and I are not cut from the same cloth, don’t talk the same, don’t act the same nor think the same. Some of the actions of this commission would not have been tolerated by our commission. Money beat out me!!


  5. The City Commission adopted Resolution 6601 back in 1973 to use Robert’s Rules of Order as the parliamentary procedure in conducting its meetings. It is basic Robert’s Rules of Order knowledge that a speaker only address the chairman of a board (in this case the mayor) with comments/questions. I’ve been corrected several times myself after failing to remember Robert’s Rules. It’s simply well-established procedure and unless there are examples where it is conspiratorially applied against some folks and not others, it’s not a non-issue.

    The procedures are reinforced by Resolution No. 10072, where the City Commission also established time limits and protocols for conduct during public meetings.

    Resolution No. 10072 states:

    1. Persons addressing the Commission shall step to the podium and provide for the record that person’s name and address, and, if applicable, the person, firm or organization the person represents.
    2. Speakers shall address their comments to the presiding officer and the Commission as a body and not to any individual member of the Commission or City staff.

    So again, item number 2 reinforces the fact that any comments (which would include questions) should not be addressed to city staff but to the presiding officer (mayor or mayor pro tem) or the Commission as a body.


  6. Jeni- Funny you should bring up the implementation of Robert’s Rules of Order and how they apply to the question asked to the city attorney. The question to the attorney was about whether the CDC recommendation before the commission was legally created. At the beginning of 2017, the CDC established that a quorum was 6 members. The CDC also established that conflicts for board members would be resolved by mathematically replacing the scores of conflicted applicants with an average for all non-conflicted applicants.

    So what happened instead of following the established rules? The city attorney forced a conflicted board member to recuse herself and that member subsequently left the meeting leaving the CDC with only 5 remaining members, no quorum. No quorum means no business can be conducted in the name of the group. So with no quorum, the CDC voted to withdraw their prior approved allocations and then voted to approve new allocation numbers. The city commission with no quorum voted to approve the illegal recommendation of the CDC. So, citizens must without fail follow Robert’s Rules when asking why the city doesn’t follow Robert’s Rules. The irony is thick.


    1. I do see your point RJ. The commission also failed to follow Resolution 7058 earlier in 2017 when they voted to award a portion of the CDBG funds and then had to rescind that vote and re-vote at the June 20 meeting. So the city commission is definitely not infallible and, who knows, may purposefully ignore procedures and their own rules at times.

      I just didn’t agree that the instance noted in this article, Haffner’s question and the commission’s response, was an example of the city doing something wrong. They’re just following established procedure. By the way, I was there, in attendance at that commission meeting on June 20 and commented that I believed there were conflicts of interest and that I planned to contact HUD. My comments begin at @ 2:15:08

      But I guess we won’t need to be concerned about what the CDC does anymore. Jenn’s story over at The Electric contains the city’s response letter to HUD and it looks like the city is eliminating the CDC.


  7. Mr. Tryon,

    You seem to be under the incorrect impression that I care one way or the other what you think of me. When it is required to post our full names, I will. Until then, please quit your whining and respond to the posts as that is the purpose of this blog.

    The rest of your post is just so much claptrap. You can stand behind your statement all you want, it doesn’t make it true and your statement of what occurred is provably false. It’s in your actual link. SMH

    As to your last sentence regarding directly questioning the attorney, it’s all about the rules. If you don’t like them work to change them or, again, quit your whining.


    1. Oh my goodness, obviously you’re totally unaware of how clueless you sound, sir or ma’am or whatever you are. It’s really easy to not care “one way or the other” what someone thinks of you when no one even knows who you are in the first place. LOL.

      If you ever muster up the courage to engage me honestly and openly using your real identity I’ll be here. Until then you have zero credibility. You’re a joke. 🙂


      1. It’s not equitable to blast someone over anonymous comments on a blog when that same blog also posts anonymous pieces, as in “ECB Staff.”

        Applying your “logic”: If anonymity gives someone “zero credibility” and makes someone “a joke,” then the “ECB Staff” would also have “zero credibility” and are a “joke.” That’s not a comment on my opinion of such articles, but it is your “logic” as further applied to other anonymity on this blog.

        Also, name-calling, as in “You’re a joke,” is a tactic that suppresses dialogue about an issue. Ad Hominem attacks such as that also distract from the discourse. You’re attacking the person for being anonymous, rather than making a real argument about what they’ve stated.


        1. Just checked in for the 1st time in a while. I couldn’t have stated it better Ms. Dodd.

          Sadly, based upon my experience in dealing with Mr. Tryon I doubt much will change.


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