First, let me say that this is my characterization of the events as I believe they happened, because…lawyers.
So, this latest dust-up with the Gardner News is fallout from what Steve Shute, Todd Winters, Rich Melton, and I (Kristy Harrison recused herself) had to do to avoid a potential lawsuit due to the actions of the current Mayor and City Administrator involving the Chief of Police. The Mayor is evidently still bitter about his defeat in this endeavor. Evident, because it is widely known that he is good friends with the Chief Editor of Gardner News.
To put it plainly, this Mayor and the City Administrator were working behind the cover of confidentiality to force the Chief out (potentially permanently and irrevocably destroying his otherwise stellar 30+year law enforcement career). After the 3 January meeting, where he was accosted by the current Human Resources Manager in a highly unprofessional and job-disqualifying public tantrum, the Chief was inexplicably served with a reprimand for alleged, later found to be completely bogus, insubordination.
To add insult to injury, the City Administrator also wrote and the Mayor desperately defended, pulling every trick at his disposal (e.g. denying special meetings, overloading agendas, driving Council meetings to 2am, threatening Council Members with personal lawsuits, etc…), what I would characterize as an obviously artificially deflated and vindictive annual evaluation. This evaluation was provided to the Chief a day or two AFTER he was served with the reprimand. This is the evaluation the council, also less Kristy Harrison, voted unanimously to vacate with the aforementioned reprimand using the process afforded us by Resolution 1963.
The vacated employee records above are now public record and available for anyone to see. However, none of what went into this has ever been properly explained. I am explaining it now to provide context for the resolution I have been accused of secretly meeting over with the other Council Members.
Throughout the process and in the weeks leading up to the meeting where Resolution 1963 was introduced, the Mayor hid behind the confidentiality requirements of executive sessions. He used against Steve, Todd, Rich, and me the fact that we could not talk publicly about the completely dishonest and absolutely disgusting things that were being perpetrated. Now, it appears he is attempting to use it again to float salacious accusations through the Gardner News.
This investigation will be short. Throughout the ordeal, we acted on the advice of the City Attorney, who is well-familiar with KOMA. None of the current members of the Council have any motivation at all to hide anything. To the contrary, we all have careers, families to support, and reputations to uphold. I personally do this City Council gig as a volunteer. I get nothing at all out of this job, save the personal satisfaction that comes from a life of service and contributing to the greater good for the citizens of this town I call home.
Oh, and the cover image for the Gardner News story? It is not a KOMA violation to appear in public with other Council members. It is not a KOMA violation to have my picture taken with other Council members outside of a public meeting. This is an effort to damage or besmirch the character of the individuals in the image. By using this image, they are associating us all with a knowingly false allegation.
I am not ashamed to be seen with these men (Rich Melton, Steve Shute, Kris Kobach, Mark Baldwin, and Scott Smith). They are all fine citizens and we need more like them to step up and help us keep government out of the hands of people who willfully abuse the power of the office they hold. Power that corrupts and makes them desperate when it looks like they might lose it. These city government posts in Gardner, including Mayor, are not meant to be full-time careers for people who lack for skills to do anything but spend other people’s money running for public office.
Suffice it to say that I believe strongly that we need a new Mayor. It will not stop Gardner News from perpetrating their ass-handed buffoonery and borderline libel, but it will at least keep Gardner moving in the right direction.