City Clerk, two aldermen walk out of Monday’s council meeting

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For the second meeting in a row, Eureka Springs city council got wobbly early. Alderman David Mitchell moved to add to the agenda “Code of Conduct as it relates individually to councilperson Mickey Schneider and associated behavior of City Clerk Ann Armstrong.” Vote to add the item was 5-1, Schneider voting No.

Following that was Approval of the Agenda, which is when the wheels began dropping off the wagon altogether.

Alderman Kristi Kendrick had objected at the previous council meeting to how the minutes had been written. Kendrick stated council had voted early in the year to abide by Robert’s Rules of Order, which states minutes should report what was done, not necessarily what was said. Therefore, she had objected to minutes submitted by Armstrong for the June 12 meeting and had provided minutes she had rewritten according to her reading of RRO.

Before council Monday evening was approval of the same minutes for June 12 that City Clerk Ann Armstrong had presented before, and Kendrick pointed out her suggestions were not represented.

Armstrong replied that in one year someone who wants to be City Clerk/Treasurer can apply to campaign for her job, but until her term is up, she will continue to do the job she was elected to do which includes preparing the minutes of council meetings as she has been doing.

Alderman David Mitchell made the point that a council meeting is the appropriate place to approve or disapprove of the minutes. Kendrick insisted she was only abiding by RRO, and her suggestions had improved the minutes and were more descriptive of what had happened.

Alderman Terry McClung said he was not sure what the beef was about, and Mayor Butch Berry suggested Kendrick submit her minutes again so council could vote. Kendrick moved to defer approval of the June 12 minutes until the next meeting.

Alderman Mickey Schneider disparaged Kendrick for not just going to Armstrong about the minutes instead of wasting everyone’s time during the meeting.

Vote to defer approving the June 12 minutes until the July 24 meeting was 3-3, Schneider and aldermen Bob Thomas and Peg Adamson voting No. Berry hesitated but voted Yes, so approval of the June 12 minutes was deferred.

Then came approval of the minutes of the June 26 meeting. Kendrick took exception to two items but quickly corrected herself about one of them. She insisted, however, the section describing the comments by Kathy Martone be described more completely.

McClung said he understood Kendrick wanting less conversation in the minutes, not more, and Kendrick responded if the minutes are going to include all the conversations, they should be accurate and descriptive.

Schneider again took exception to Kendrick’s comments, claiming Kendrick was wasting everyone’s time. Looking directly at Kendrick, Schneider asked, “Is there some reason you can’t go talk to Ann?” She said that would be proper procedure.

Berry intervened to keep control of the meeting, but Schneider tried to talk over him.

“I object that this is procedure,” Kendrick stated. “It might be procedure in Ms. Schneider’s mind, but I believe the procedure is to discuss it at this table.”

Schneider responded that aldermen get the minutes of meetings a week in advance, so Kendrick should have plenty time to peruse them “so we don’t sit here wasting our time. This has been the procedure for eons. I have been on council for the last five terms.” She claimed it had been done as she described “out of courtesy for the people.”

As Kendrick rebutted Schneider, Armstrong stood while collecting her things. She voiced she did not like the personal nature of the comments and attacks during the meeting. Berry tried to intervene, but Armstrong would have none of it. Berry stated she was out of order to which she returned, “You’re out of order,” to Berry, then to Kendrick and Schneider.

“I’m going downstairs and get something productive done,” Armstrong stated as she made another call for decorum as she exited the room.

Berry returned to the business at hand. “We have a motion on the table,” he said, which was to have a more elaborate description of one section of the previous meeting minutes.

Schneider again challenged Kendrick to explain why she was wasting their time. The vote on Kendrick’s motion was 4-2 against, McClung, Thomas, Schneider and Adamson voting No. So, that being done, Schneider again lit into Kendrick, which was when Adamson said, “I’m done,” got up and left.

A visibly agitated Schneider stood, pulled her things together and also marched out of the room.

As the dust settled…

Those remaining took inventory, noting there was a quorum remaining at the table although the minute-taker was gone. McClung pointed out all that had transpired was being memorialized on video, so there certainly would be a record of the proceedings, and he was inclined to continue with the meeting. The others agreed with him, so four aldermen and Berry carried on.

The first thing to do was to vote on the motion already on the floor, which was to defer a decision on the June 26 minutes until one section could be expanded to more accurately reflect what had been said. Vote on the motion was 2-2, McClung and Thomas voting No, so the motion failed.

Thomas then moved to accept the minutes as submitted and he got a second from McClung. Vote to approve his motion was 2-2, Kendrick and Mitchell voting No, so that motion failed as well.

With none of the previous minutes being approved, they were ready to hear Public Comments.

Public Comments

Bob Jasinski pointed out the law is written so that Bed & Breakfast owners can sit on the City Advertising and Promotion Commission only in the at-large seat although they are required to collect the tax. He also insisted something must be done about the sidewalks in town. They are another example of possible violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and added that Bed & Breakfasts do not have to comply with ADA regulations.

The actual agenda

  • Aldermen decided to postpone discussion of the topic “Code of Conduct as it relates individually to councilperson Mickey Schneider and associated behavior of City Clerk Ann Armstrong” until the next meeting when both individuals should be present.
  • New information had come to light concerning rezoning 38 and 42 Prospect from R-1 to C-3 Quiet Commercial. Chair Melissa Greene of Planning had learned one resident of 42 Prospect did not want to be rezoned, so aldermen discussed other options and sent the topic back to Planning.
  • With a 4-0 vote council passed the third reading of Ordinance 2257, which bans smoking in parks and other city-owned gathering spaces.

One more item

  • Berry announced there is a vacancy on the CAPC and two vacancies on the Cemetery Commission. He noted the Cemetery Commission is open to all county residents.

Next meeting will be Monday, July 24, at 6 p.m. There will be a budget workshop at 5:15.

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