Backstory on some council friction

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Alderman David Mitchell asked city council on Monday to add a “Code of conduct as it relates individually to councilperson Mickey Schneider and associated behavior of City Clerk Ann Armstrong,” to the July 10 city council agenda. Vote to add the item was 5-1, Schneider voting No.

But before council got to the topic, Armstrong had left the room citing the uncomfortable rancor of the discourse at the meeting. She was followed soon by Schneider and alderman Peg Adamson. In preparation for the conversation that never happened, Mitchell had distributed copies of statements from four people who work in the county clerk’s office describing an incident involving Schneider and her husband.

According to the statement of County Clerk Jamie Correia, “At approximately 9:30 a.m., July 6, 2017, I walked into my office with Michele and Steve Schneider demanding me to shut down my State Voter Registration computer and not allow for any voter information be given out. Michele raised her voice and kept pointing her finger at me telling me I will be sued for giving out Voter Registration Information and I had better do my job by doing so. I explained to her my computers are owned by the State and I have no control on the Secretary of State’s office giving out Voter Registration Information that is public record. Both Michele and Steve had their selves removed from Voter Registration and yelled at my employee that they both wanted to see proof they had been removed. Both used very foul language while present in the County Clerk’s office.”

Correia went on to say she called Mayor Butch Berry to report what had happened, but he was not in so she spoke instead with Armstrong. Correia explained “how she [Schneider] unregistered herself as a registered voter and how by law you have to be a registered voter in order to be an Elected Official.”

Correia stated Armstrong looked up the reference in the law, and said she would speak with Schneider after she calmed down. Armstrong asked if things would be okay if Schneider re-registered, and Correia said, “Absolutely.”

Correia also stated that just prior to the encounter in her office, the Schneiders had stopped by Judge Sam Barr’s office “and invited him to the party.”

Election Coordinator Sherry Cochrane commented in her account of the incident, “Mickey started talking very loudly and rudely to me stating I should have a form already made up to remove her from the voter registration roll. Mickey then went on a rant that she absolutely refused to send her personal information to that f*****g Republican president and that I should be ashamed of myself for not standing up for the rights of voters.” Cochrane stated this was the second time she had witnessed Schneider’s “obnoxious and bullying performances in a County Clerk’s office.”

There were also corroborating statements from Deputy Clerks Dellie Nolen and Bresica Estelberg. Estelberg reported, “She [Schneider] told us we were breaking the law by sending everybody’s information to the state. Sherry tried to explain that to her that the computers we use for voter registration are through the state and Mickey still tried to argue with her. Then Mickey proceeded to tell Sherry we should all go to hell, and basically Sherry should quit her job rather than send out everybody’s personal information. Mickey told Sherry she would be periodically coming into our office and checking to make sure Sherry had not put her back on the voter registration tolls.”

This will be on the agenda for the July 24 meeting.

Schneider told the Independent on Tuesday she had not received the copies passed around at the council table. The packet had not been in her box downstairs before the meeting, and she had already left the room when the material was distributed. When asked if she had indeed had an encounter with Correia, Schneider replied, “Oh, hell yes!” She said she went to the County Clerk’s office to cancel her voter registration because she insisted it is illegal to pass along personal data about voters, and did not want her information handed to President Trump.

She said the information collected might include social security numbers, mother’s maiden name and how a voter has voted in the past, so she unregistered herself. Schneider also admitted she “jumped all over Jamie” because her job should be to protect voters, and Correia should have stood up to Secretary of State Mark Martin.

Schneider said she went to the Eureka Springs courthouse the following day, July 7, and re-registered to vote. Because she has a new registration, no one can know how she has voted in the past. She informed Berry, City Attorney Tim Weaver and other alderman she had re-registered and was still an alderman.

She claimed that because of her 22 years watching over elections in Eureka Springs, she has “more knowledge of voter law than all of them put together.” She said she got several phone calls in support of her actions.

She said her voters are secure they will be taken care of at the polling place, and proclaimed she is a citizen first and an alderman second.