Tempers flare in Taylor; council spars over minutes, email

Sunday Times Newspapers

TAYLOR — What may have been Mayor Jeffrey Lamarand’s final Taylor City Council meeting was largely non-productive and often contentious, over matters having little or nothing to do with the recall question on Tuesday’s ballot.

As has been the custom of late, council debated whether approving the previous meeting’s minutes would leave them open to legal problems. The council minutes are not prepared by a municipal employee from the local union, and elected officials including Rick Sollars have been reluctant to vote on their approval. With contract negotiations ongoing between the city and its employees, Sollars has requested an opinion from corporation counsel, but has yet to receive satisfactory guidance.

“My intention is not to repeat history,” Sollars said.

Human Resources Director Sheila Gorski-Schulte could not clarify specific job descriptions with regard to agenda or minute preparation, but did ask that the panel make sure that employees are paid. Continued failure to approve minutes could put payroll processing in jeopardy.

“We urge you to continue city business,” Gorski-Schulte said. “There is a grievance, but it’s not going to be decided by the city council. You should continue city business.”

The minutes from a previous meeting were not approved by a 3-3 vote; Sollars, Jacklyn Molner and John Delo cast dissenting votes; Council member Dennis Stapleton was absent.

Following a spare agenda of routine items, the “open business” portion of the meeting was dominated by an email which Molner read aloud, the contents of which were highly critical of an unnamed majority of five elected panelists. The email referred to “these five idiots,” among other comments.

Molner said the email was forwarded to her, and was written by Council Chair Cheryl Burke. Molner did not say how she obtained the email.

Burke neither confirmed nor denied authorship, but took exception to its contents being shared.

“It’s reprehensible for you to be hacking into my personal emails,” said Burke, adding that she would be meeting with her personal attorney to discuss the matter.

As the conversation continued, Burke attempted to call Molner “out of order,” which Molner did not accept.

“I refuse to accept what you said about me,” Molner said. “I’m not an idiot.”

The meeting was soon adjourned. Council member Delo, who was referred to in unflattering ways in the email, attempted to close the discussion.

“I’m just so sorry this happened,” he said to the council at large. To Burke he added, “You called me a dummy, and I have a problem with that.”

The council next meets Nov. 15, and may be required to appoint a mayor and schedule a special election if Tuesday’s election results in the recall of Lamarand.

(James Mitchell can be reached at jmitchell@bewickpublications.com.)