Vermillion Mayor Jon Cole has been treating people like crap lately.
It’s time for that to stop.
Last month, he removed key portions of the Black History Month proclamation and Vermillion City Council members weren’t aware of the changes until they were mentioned by City Council member Julia Hellwege during the council’s noon meeting on Feb. 7. She had reviewed the proclamation and discovered that portions had been deleted. The edited version was read that night. Cole never informed the council of the changes he made. That was a crappy move.
Members of the University of South Dakota’s Cultural Wellness Coalition (CWC) were so concerned about the edited proclamation that they attended the Feb. 21 Vermillion City Council meeting to voice their worries. Cole had attended the CWC’s meeting, held Feb. 19 on the USD campus. He indicated to the group that they could address the Feb. 21 City Council meeting.
After the way they were treated at the Feb. 21 meeting, however, CWC members are unsure of whether Cole miscommunicated with them, if he’s mistaken or if he’s spreading falsehoods to the group. They found it necessary to attend the City Council’s March 6 meeting because of the mayor’s crappy behavior.
The CWC was informed of a sudden time limit that was imposed by Cole when the group arrived at City Hall on Feb. 21, prepared to speak to the Vermillion City Council. That was a crappy move.
A CWC representative told the City Council that they were told by Cole that every Vermillion City Council member knew of the removal of portions of the proclamation before Feb. 6 and that every Vermillion City Council member agreed upon the edits he made. That’s not true. Such misrepresentation was a crappy move by Cole.
Cole told CWC members that restoring the proclamation was a little too late as it would be stealing the thunder of the Women’s History Month proclamation in the month of March. The City Council often reads more than one proclamation at a meeting. There’s no competition going on here and the mayor telling USD students that the city can’t consider their request because of that is a crappy move.
CWC members also were under the assumption when they arrived at the Feb. 21 meeting that members who planned to speak would each have five minutes. Those are the rules printed on every City Council meeting agenda. Cole told the group, as it gathered in the hallway preparing to enter the City Hall meeting chamber shortly before the start of the Feb. 21 meeting, that only one representative of the group could speak and he or she would have five minutes. That was a crappy move.
Cole also didn’t inform City Council members at the Feb. 21 meeting that he was going to limit the CWC’s public input to only one speaker who had five minutes. That was a crappy move.
His decision wasn’t made clear to council members until they asked him about it at Monday’s noon meeting. That shouldn’t have to happen — he should have discussed that with the council before the Feb. 21 meeting. Keeping the council in the dark was a crappy move.
CWC members have been told by Cole that he would issue a public apology for the removal of sections of the Black History Month proclamation. No apology has been issued. That is a crappy move.
And on Monday night, he lied to the CWC members who gathered in the City Hall meeting chamber.
“I’ll be happy to meet with a couple of the representatives in reference to the CWC,” Cole told the group at Monday’s City Council meeting. “I believe I sent out a couple messages, but haven’t received a response yet, but I’ll reach out to you guys and we’ll come up with something that works for you guys.”
The Plain Talk learned Monday night that, contrary to what the mayor said, Cole had not sent any messages to the CWC and had not replied to communications the CWC had sent to him before Monday’s meeting. That is a crappy move.
Vermillion Mayor Jon Cole has been treating people like crap lately. It’s time for that to stop.
Mayor Cole's corrosive and exploitative actions towards Vermillion citizens, students, and council members gives the appearance of an autocracy rather than a government that is by the people for the people. Everyone deserves to be seen and heard.
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