Tibbs fired his opening salvo in what he, apparently, hopes will be a contentious race, first attacking Mayor Dave Bieter, then turning around and going after a city council member who spoke out against Tibbs. It started on Aug. 1, when Tibbs held a press conference to announce he was filing an ethics complaint against Bieter.
In his complaint, Tibbs states that by recommending the Gallatin Group—the city's contracted legislative relations consultant—to forward the cause of a statewide transportation plan in the coming year, Bieter, in effect, funneled taxpayer money to a company owned by a member of his own campaign finance committee. The contract is worth $65,000.
While Tibbs admits that Bieter did disclose his relationship with Marc Johnson, president of the Gallatin Group, and recused himself from any discussion or decision on the matter, he believes there are still improprieties.
Tibbs alluded to the mayor's manipulation the council agenda to discuss the issue when Tibbs wasn't present. The contract was discussed during a Council meeting on July 24, after Tibbs had left the meeting for a doctor's appointment. It was not discussed during the July 31 meeting. Bieter's original memo to the City Council on the issue was sent on July 20.
This announcement and, moreover, Tibbs' decision to take the issue directly to the media rather than bringing it up in regular council meetings, raised the ire of his fellow council members. Several spoke out against Tibbs' tactics, none more vocally than Maryanne Jordan, who publicly took Tibbs to task for manipulating city business for his campaign.
"This was a deliberate political-theater choice," Jordan said, following Tibbs' announcement.
"We have a council member who, in my mind, isn't doing the job he was elected to do," she said. "He needs to do his job as a council member first and run for mayor second."
The following day, Tibbs turned his aim on Jordan, accusing her of her own unethical practices, citing the fact that Johnson made a personal contribution to her 2005 campaign and hosted a fundraiser.
"Looks like Maryanne Jordan is part of Dave Bieter's Gallatin playground," said Tibbs in a written statement. Jordan called the attack "pathetic."
For Bieter, the accusations don't hold any weight. "Frankly, when you don't have any subjects to talk about, you start mudslinging, and that's what this is," Bieter said. "If he had any issues with this, he should have said something in Council.
"His hobby of running for mayor is getting in the way of his job as a council member," Bieter said.
Tibbs freely admitted that he was making the ethics complaints as a candidate for mayor, and that he had not spoken to any other members of the City Council about the issue. "I'm standing up here as Jim Tibbs, candidate for mayor," he said.