An expected up-down vote on the question of Greg Alexander’s removal from Bloomington’s traffic commission did not take place at Wednesday night’s city council meeting.
The motion for Alexander’s removal—because of Tweets he posted late last year—had been postponed from the council’s March 29 meeting. That postponement had unanimous support from the council, in order to give Alexander at least five business days to respond in writing to the specific reasons listed out in the motion.
On Wednesday, councilmember Dave Rollo wound up withdrawing his motion to remove Alexander.
Since Jan. 18, when the council reappointed Alexander to the traffic commission, Rollo has now made three different motions on Alexander’s removal—and withdrawn each one.
Alexander also appeared at Wednesday’s council meeting, and from the public mic responded to the motion during general public commentary time.
But when the council reached the “Appointments To Boards And Commissions” section on the agenda, when the postponed motion would have been considered, the council did not again take up the question of Alexander’s removal.
At that time, the council did take up a motion—also postponed from March 29—for removal of a member of the environmental commission, based on non-attendance. The vote on the environmental commissioner’s removal was unanimous.
When council president Sue Sgambelluri asked if there was any other business under that section of the agenda, she got no response. So Sgambelluri moved on to the next section—legislation for second reading.
Councilmember Steve Volan leaned back in his chair with outstretched arms, and upturned palms, indicating puzzlement that the motion on Alexander’s removal had not been taken up.
But Volan did not exercise the right of any councilmember under Robert’s Rules, to demand that the postponed question be taken up—given Sgambelluri’s failure to state the question at the correct point in the meeting.
From the public mic at the end of the meeting, The B Square asked what the status of the postponed motion on Alexander’s removal was—given that it had not been properly stated at the meeting, and given that no councilmember had raised an objection.
Volan reacted to The B Square’s question by directing a question to Rollo: “I’d like to ask my colleague if he would withdraw the motion.”
Rollo answered: “Yes, I will withdraw the motion.” Volan followed up: “Does Mr. Rollo intend to bring back the motion? Or can we retire it with prejudice?”
In response to that question Rollo didn’t answer, saying, “I think we’re at the end of our meeting.”
After the meeting, Rollo responded to a question from The B Square about his intentions for bringing back the same or another motion on Alexander’s removal: “It’s under consideration right now.” About his answer to Volan’s question, Rollo added, “I was ambiguous about reintroducing it.”
Rollo acknowledged to The B Square after the meeting: “It’s been a long time.”
The saga began on Jan. 18 when the council considered a slate of appointments to various boards and commissions, including Alexander’s reappointment to the traffic commission. Rollo voted no, and Susan Sandberg abstained.
The two councilmembers who didn’t support his reappointment were aware of Alexander’s Tweets late last year, which were posted after the council approved the installation of a stop sign at Maxwell Lane and Sheridan Drive. One of them read: “haters gonna hate and bloomington democrats gonna lick the shit out from between elm heights’ neighbors ass cheeks”
On Feb. 1 Rollo made a motion to remove Alexander. That motion was referred to a council committee on processes, which met three times and made a recommendation for how to move forward.
The committee’s recommendation, delivered on March 1, was for Rollo to withdraw his original motion and, if he wanted to pursue it, to put forward a second, more-precisely worded motion. Rollo made a second, more-precisely worded motion at the council’s March 1 meeting, but wound up withdrawing it at the same meeting.
Rollo’s third motion was made on March 29, which was postponed until this Wednesday (April 12).
Positions on the traffic commission are unpaid. The city’s traffic commission is an advisory board that, among other things, recommends to the city council and other city officials ways to improve traffic conditions and the enforcement of traffic regulations.
A key idea in Rollo’s now-withdrawn third motion is that because of the Tweets he posted, Alexander could not fulfill the duties of a traffic commissioner, which include “to receive complaints having to do with traffic matters, and to recommend to the common council and to appropriate city officials ways and means for improving traffic conditions and the administration and enforcement of traffic regulations.”
During his remarks from the public mic at Wednesday’s council meeting, Alexander challenged the idea that he could not receive traffic complaints, recounting a situation he became aware of from a newspaper article in 2019—before he was serving on the traffic commission. A man had been arrested for walking in the street on Bloomfield Road. Alexander said he knew the sidewalk was closed on both sides of the street and the man had no choice but to walk in the road.
Alexander said he’d treated the newspaper account as a complaint he’d received, then tracked down the maintenance of traffic plan for the project, written a critical report to the city staff, and delivered a speech to the city council about it, portraying the situation as a “correctable systemic injustice.”
Alexander told the council on Wednesday, “I do an incredible job of receiving complaints and acting on them. I’m superlative at it. I’m dedicated to it every moment I’m outside.”
Alexander said, “For councilmember Rollo to say, in his many words, that I’m unable to perform that duty, is personally insulting and absurdly counterfactual.”