Sandpoint Resolution Withdrawn Under Citizen Pressure
by Christian Schwab
Wednesday, January 20th, 2016, the Sandpoint Council meeting started for over 100 Bonner County residents early, as many were present an hour before the meeting. From teenagers to seniors, no one was given access to be seated, leaving everyone standing in the entry waiting on the building to be secure. Chief Coon explained he had never saw that many people come to the meeting. As the first Councilman, Atkin entered the building through the front door he was guided to the back entrance by a local officer. The doors officially closed with a full crowd around a half hour early.
As Mayor Rognstad entered the room a wide, smile came over his face as he looked over the crowd. For the first time in months all council persons were present. Mr. Mike Clark used the opening comment time to tell the council to listen to the voters, which Mayor Rognstad attempted to shut down. This is when the crowd went wild. Rognstad told the audience that ,”We’re not going to have hooting and hollering in here.” He reiterated that if the citizens could not control the noise then the meeting would be closed down.
Another issue when dealing with the refugee resolution which came up at the January 6th meeting was when Councilwoman Ruehle stated that “citizens need to realize the Council did not get paid that they did it because they love Sandpoint”. Anita Aurit a respected member of the community used her public comment time to speak on the issue of the City Council supposedly not getting paid. She stated that she was offended at the statements that these positions are ‘volunteer’. She explained that it is not just salary, but it is also benefits. “We have $111,509 of taxpayer money that goes to the council, “ Aurit said. She broke that down to $1548.00 per month, per council member.
The one thing that dominated the agenda was the resolution affirming Sandpoint City Council’s commitment to human rights and nondiscrimination after keeping the council in quorum for over 3 hours on Jan 6th no other business was added to the agenda. Rognstad thanked the public for coming and he said he believes its good to have these discussions. An original proclamation was made by Mayor Logan earlier and Rognstad thought it was a good idea to writing up an official resolution. First official comments came from Councilman Tom Eddy which said he refuses to vote for this resolution because it is separating our community. Mayor Rognstad and Eddy admitted there is nothing the city can do about stopping it as its a Federal issue.
Councilwoman Ruehle weighed in, as well: “We are not a people full of hatred but people have real fears. We need to talk. We need to listen. We need not discuss this issue at this time. Please, you can fix this. Please withdraw your motion”.
The Resolution was withdrawn “as this issue has divided us,” said Rognstad, “and I hope we can all be reunited .“