Council kerfuffle: Schneider, Adamson walk out after dispute over minutes

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

It was just a matter minutes before the Eureka Springs City Council broke into an argument Monday night.

During the approval of the minutes at the beginning of the meeting, alderwoman Kristi Kendrick said she hadn’t heard anything about the minutes from the June 12 meeting. Kendrick asked city clerk Ann Armstrong to amend the minutes at the council’s June 26 meeting.

“I have not heard anything. I haven’t seen any minutes of June 12 since the last meeting,” Kendrick said.

Armstrong said she had two sentences to offer in response.

“In about one year, anyone who is interested in doing the clerk treasurer’s job will be welcome to launch a campaign and may be elected to do this job,” Armstrong said. “Between now and the end of 2018, I will do the job for which I was elected … that includes formatting the minutes, choosing the font and the typeface. I will continue to do that job.”

Alderman David Mitchell said the approval of the minutes takes place at the council meeting and, therefore, is council business.

“If we wanted to ask questions or make changes or have suggestions, it seems appropriate you would do that,” Mitchell said.

Kendrick said the council passed a resolution at the beginning of the year saying the council would follow Robert’s Rules of Order.

“Robert’s Rules of Order does provide that the minutes must state what is done at the meeting, not what is said,” Kendrick said. “I did make some other suggestions in the minutes I gave the clerk in the last meeting that I think improved the minutes.”

Kendrick moved to defer the approval of the minutes for the June 12 meeting, and alderman Terry McClung asked why.

“There was contention, Terry, in the report of the minutes, and rather than use proper procedure and go and talk to the clerk in person, by email or on the phone,” alderwoman Mickey Schneider said, “she chose to write out her version of it and try to get us to discuss a vote on hers. That’s what it comes down to.”

The council voted on Kendrick’s motion, with Mitchell, Kendrick and McClung voting in favor of it and Schneider, Bob Thomas and Peg Adamson voting against it. Mayor Butch Berry voted in favor of the motion to break the tie.

The council moved on to the minutes from the June 26 meeting, and Kendrick said she wanted to change a couple of sections in those minutes, too. Kendrick pointed to the second paragraph in the minutes where it says a motion failed 3-2-0.

“That seems unclear to me,” Kendrick said.

“What, that they voted no?” McClung said.

“OK, I’m sorry. I misunderstood that,” Kendrick said. “Then also in the description of what Ms. Kathy Martone spoke about … I’d like a little better description of what she spoke about.”

“I thought what you were wanting of the clerk was less instead of more,” McClung said.

“If we are going to include all the discussions, I think they ought to be accurate and descriptive,” Kendrick said.

Schneider said she didn’t understand why Kendrick brought the issue to the council table.

“Is there some reason why you can’t talk this over with the clerk rather than waste all this time and all these people and all these people watching?” Schneider said. “Is there some reason why you can’t do that? Geez, that’s procedure.”

Kendrick disagreed.

“That might be procedure in Ms. Schneider’s mind, but I believe the procedure is discussing it at the table,” she said.

Kendrick moved to amend the minutes elaborating on what Martone said during public comments, and Schneider said Kendrick could have contacted Armstrong to fix that rather than bring it to the meeting.

“We are given the minutes approximately a week before a meeting so that we can peruse them, so that we can read them, so that we can find if something has been misspelled or whatever,” Schneider said.

Kendrick said the minutes were sent to the council members and posted to the press only two hours after that.

“The minutes are not posted to the press,” Armstrong said.

“I’m sorry, just posted,” Kendrick said.

Armstrong said she had something to say, and Berry told her not to.

“I am. When we stop having this be a personal vendetta…” Armstrong said.

“Cut her mic,” Mitchell said.

“If this is going to continue to be a personal vendetta…” Armstrong said.

“You’re out of order,” Berry said.

Pointing at Kendrick and Mitchell, Armstrong said, “You are out of order. You are out of order. The person who sits in this seat is an elected official. You do not dictate … I am going downstairs to get something productive done.”

“We’ve got a motion on the table,” Berry said. “Will you please be quiet?”

Armstrong said she would and stood to leave, saying she’d return when the meeting was conducted with decorum.

“You’re making it a joke,” Armstrong said.

The council voted on Kendrick’s motion to defer the minutes until the next meeting, with Mitchell and Kendrick voting yes and Adamson, Schneider, Thomas and McClung voting against it. Mitchell asked if the council could continue with the meeting without the city clerk present, and Berry said he wasn’t sure.

“Where’s the lawyer when we need him?” Schneider said.

“That’s enough,” Mitchell said.

“It is not,” Schneider said, pointing at Mitchell.

Berry banged on the table as he, Schneider and Mitchell all spoke at the same time.

“Hey, come on Mickey,” Berry said. “Come on.”

Adamson stood from her seat.

“I’m done. I’m done,” Adamson said.

“I’m done, too,” Schneider said.

Both Schneider and Adamson left the meeting, leaving Berry, Kendrick, McClung, Mitchell and Thomas at the table. Berry suggested postponing the meeting, and McClung said he would be OK with continuing the meeting because a quorum was present. The council agreed to do so and returned to discussing the minutes from the June 26 meeting.

Mitchell moved to defer the approval of those minutes. Thomas asked why, and Berry said it was because Armstrong wasn’t there to take changes into consideration. When Mitchell’s motion failed, Thomas moved to approve the minutes. That motion failed, too.

“So it looks like the minutes are going to be deferred,” Berry said.

In the second half of the meeting, the council approved an ordinance banning the use of tobacco in city parks on a third and final reading. The council also agreed to refer a request to rezone 42 Prospect from R-1 Residential to C-3 Commercial back to the planning commission.

The council’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, July 24 at City Hall.

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