Why Council President Lisa Bender opted out of attending the Mayor's 2020 Budget address

Council President Lisa Bender's absence from Mayor Frey's 2020 Budget address did not go unnoticed. Every Council Member except Lisa Bender cleared their schedule for a presentation that has been on the calendar for months. Most people would consider the City Budget a *top priority* for a Council Member. And if you were both a Council Member and on the Board of Estimate/Taxation - which Lisa Bender is - you might consider the Budget address an extra special day.

We learned that instead of engaging with the Council Members, the Mayor, the Board of Estimate/Taxation and constituents in what was a spirited demonstration of democracy in action, Lisa Bender went on vacation. She decided that this would be the ideal week to head up to the Boundary Waters. Apparently she was going to be "off the grid" but people in her Twitter world noticed her on social media the morning of Mayor Frey's address.

We all need vacations. But as a responsible employee, we try to work around key milestones and priorities in scheduling them. The other 12 Council Member's managed that, but it looks like the 2020 Budget just wasn't a priority for Council President Lisa Bender. All of her fellow Board of Estimate/Taxation team members were there (the team includes CM Warsame, CP Lisa Bender, Mayor Frey, Park Board President Brad Bourn, Carol Becker and David Wheeler).

When a City is asking for a 6.95% property tax levy, on top of the tough one we swallowed in 2019 (5.67%), it is inexcusable that our Council President would have other things to do. This is her job that we as taxpayers pay her to do.

This lack of engagement from our Council President also begs the question of her true commitment to Racial Equity. Our minority communities showed up at the Budget address and used that forum to express their deep concerns about public safety. She wasn’t there to hear them.  It was clear that their challenge to our city's leadership was going to occur and she chose to dodge the opportunity to hear them.

We can only surmise the she is so comfortable in her position that she thinks she can get away with this. We are here to tell her, she can not get away with this. It reflects poorly on her and anyone she supports now or in the future.

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