Friday, December 18, 2009

Councilor ends term with poor attendance

Dave Chase has missed nearly 4 times more meetings than colleagues


By TREVON MILLIARD
Express Staff Writer

Yesterday's Sun Valley City Council meeting was the last for Councilman Dave Chase, who ends his two-year term without a very favorable attendance record.

Since beginning his term in January 2008, Chase has missed almost four times as many meetings as each of the other three council members. Chase was absent on 11 occasions, while colleagues Dewayne Briscoe and Joan Lamb each missed three meetings during the same two-year span. Councilman Nils Ribi holds a perfect attendance record.

Before 2008, Chase also served on the council from July 2007 to the end of the year when Councilwoman Ann Agnew resigned and Mayor Jon Thorson appointed him to fill the position.

In that six-month span, Chase missed one meeting while the three other council members didn't miss any, bringing his absence total to 12 and the second closest in that time span to three.

Like the other council members, Chase is paid $1,000 per month plus medical benefits.

Chase argued that, unlike the three other council members, he has a full-time job and therefore a schedule that needs early planning to juggle the two responsibilities.

Both Briscoe and Lamb are retired, but Ribi owns and operates full-time a venture-capital business that helps startup technology companies.

Nine of Chase's 12 absences are from special meetings, which are scheduled as they come along. But, City Administrator Sharon Hammer said, most of those are scheduled with council members' input. Three of Chase's 12 absences were for regular Thursday meetings planned at the beginning of each fiscal year.

"The meetings that are scheduled with lead time, I schedule my time around," Chase said.

Even if Chase can't be in town, he is able to participate in meetings via phone. But he did that only once, in July of this year.

Since the start of October, Chase has missed four out of seven meetings, double the absences of any other council member. However, the four missed meetings weren't the regularly scheduled ones held every other Thursday, but were special meetings scheduled as the need arose.

Chase was sick for an Oct. 6 meeting, and he said he missed three meetings on Nov. 30, Dec. 1 and Dec. 9 not out of choice but due to his work schedule. He said the meetings were all scheduled within only a week of his knowing, and since he has a full-time job that requires a lot of traveling, it was too late to change his schedule.

Chase is a partner with Altus Alliance, a Seattle-based venture consulting firm specializing primarily in the technology industry.

"I'm not sure why the meetings were so rushed," Chase said, adding that meetings are usually scheduled after checking with council members' schedules, "but there was none of that."

However, Councilman Nils Ribi said those meetings weren't a surprise.

"Staff sent an e-mail to council members to see what works best for them," he said.

Ribi said he didn't remember how far in advance the e-mails were sent. Phone calls to Sun Valley City Clerk Kelly Ek to obtain that information were not returned.

Chase said that for the meetings on Nov. 30, Dec. 1 and 9, he made sure enough people were in attendance for the "barrage" of meetings so that he would not be missed.

Those three meetings weren't ordinary City Council meetings involving only the council and mayor, but were a collaborative effort between city staff and department heads. They discussed Sun Valley's capital improvement projects to be slated for the next five years, which include facilities improvements and vehicles needed to keep the city running at an optimal level.

Newly elected Councilman Bob Youngman will replace Chase at the end of this month, and Youngman attended all three meetings Chase missed. The final decisions about capital improvement projects won't be made until the new year, when Chase has left and Youngman is in office.

"With Bob there, it seemed well covered," Chase said.

Chase said he also attended five to six meetings before his swearing into office, for the same reason as Youngman—to educate himself on the issues.

Trevon Milliard: tmilliard@mtexpress.com




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