May 25, 2023 at 11:26 a.m.

North Branch council supports censure action against Neider



By DENISE MARTIN | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment
News

North Branch City Council members were not buying excuses put forward by a fellow council member, Kelly Neider, during a hearing held May 24 considering options to impose consequences for the member’s Code of Conduct violation.  They ended up voting to censure Council member Neider, sending a message that her personal, derogatory statements specifically related to citizen and city appointee Patrick Meacham will not be tolerated.  

Meacham submitted a formal complaint triggering council to set the hearing.  

His complaint was based on Neider declaring in a public meeting he had a “personality defect” and she iterated that Meacham wouldn’t be able to serve or be a leader  in any appointed capacity.

Meacham cited a specific section of council’s code where members agree to not make statements reflective of a subject’s  income, gender, national origin, disability, etc. 

Council member Travis Miles noted that he scrutinized her use of the word defect, versus mental health terms which rely on ‘disorder’ and felt they were interchangeable. 

Neider told her fellow council members she did not “knowingly” aim to defame a protected disabled class (those with mental illness) even though this is spelled out in the code’s examples of disallowed conduct.  Plus, curiously, she stressed the remarks were only “my opinion.”

Mayor Kevin Schieber commented in the ensuing hour-plus discussion that  if Neider had apologized or expressed understanding of the public’s perception of her utterances, that Schieber could have gone a different direction from censure.  But, Council member Neider throughout  her statements, seemed oblivious to the complaint.  In fact she declared she has the “freedom” to say whatever she wants and she’s not responsible for how any subject might interpret remarks.

The mayor, and Council members Robert Canada and Travis Miles voted to censure.  The staff will get a finalized resolution worded from the attorney at the next council meeting.  Peter Schaps voted no.

Meacham sits on the Water & Light Commission and Neider has been a non-voting liaison, for council. He said the code of conduct violation makes it tense to be around each other. Mayor Schieber asked council if they were prepared to act on the make-up of the utility commission at that meeting;  but  Neider said she’d make it easier on the city and relinquished the liaison assignment.  Her offer to step down was accepted.  Council will discuss making a new council liaison appointment later.

The council also directed the two to try and settle the bad blood that has developed so they can work in a “professional and cordial” manner for the good of the city, as Mayor Schieber defined it.  No apology or conversation took place as the 6 p.m. meeting dispersed  about 7:15 p.m.

For his part—Meacham read a statement at the start of the session explaining he  had been viewing the council meeting on-line with family members and was shocked and humiliated hearing Neider “drag my name through the mud.”  He stressed there is no room in city governance for placing labels personally, and that Neider alluding to mental illness and that it disqualifies a citizen from productive participation, is completely indefensible.  He sat silently during deliberations, and did not exit city hall until Neider and a handful of audience members had gone.



Comments:

Commenting has been disabled for this item.

Events

June

SU
MO
TU
WE
TH
FR
SA
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
30
1
2
3
4
5
6
SUN
MON
TUE
WED
THU
FRI
SAT

To Submit an Event Sign in first

Today's Events

No calendar events have been scheduled for today.

Events

June

SU
MO
TU
WE
TH
FR
SA
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
30
1
2
3
4
5
6
SUN
MON
TUE
WED
THU
FRI
SAT

To Submit an Event Sign in first

Today's Events

No calendar events have been scheduled for today.