As much as it pains me to write this – ouch! – City Councilmember Leslie Curran is emerging as a counterweight, if not the voice of opposition, to Mayor Bill Foster’s City Hall, a suprising development considering that Curran and Foster are both Republicans from the same part of town who share similar worldviews.
Yet, since becoming Chair of the City Council, Curran’s frustration with some of Foster’s heavy-handedness is becoming apparent. Consider this exchange during a discussion of Foster’s decision to allow the police to engage in high-speed pursuits:
“If you’re going to make a decision, make a decision,” she said. “Don’t go through the pretense of a discussion.”
This may have been the first time Curran took her issues with the new administration publically, but, according to a source inside City Hall, Curran exerted her influence by making sure that Foster’s new administration structure better respected personnel involved with the city’s art programs.
Curran’s was right to oppose the BayWalk sidewalk vacation issue. She has led the way on the revitalization of the Crislip Arcade. She’s been open-minded about extending the so-called last call for the city’s bar and restaurants.
And she’s not standing up to Foster, Curran is also doing her best to reign in some of her verbose colleagues on the City Council, specifically Wengay Newton, who, while sometimes raising needed questions, more often appears unprepared for meetings.
If you would have asked me which City Councilmember would rise to the occassion to challenge Foster, I’d have said Karl Nurse, the most liberal member of the eight members, but Nurse suffered a setback earlier this month when Police Chief Chuck Harmon deemed greener police cars (Nurse’s idea) unsafe for carrying prisoners.
At Mayor Foster’s inauguration, I asked Curran how it’s happened that she’s become the most vocal member of City Council. She said it’s her “experience” that is helping her make the right decisions. Remember, Curran served on the City Council for eight years before taking a term off.
Listen, Leslie Curran and I are never going to be best friends. But I have give credit where credit is due. Leslie Curran, keep up the good work.