Most New Carlisle City Council meetings are dry affairs, with discussions about obscure ordinances and city finances. Last night’s city council meeting was tense, with several bombshells dropped about behind the scenes happenings in our city.
Video of the entire meeting is below. Scroll down for a summary and analysis.
From the outset, this meeting doesn’t seem to be any different than a typical one. Roll call was performed, a prayer was said, and the Pledge of Allegiance was spoken. City Manager Randy Bridge then covered his city manager’s report, which is primarily a recap of events that affect taxpayers. Some highlights of the report included:
- One of the police SUVs in town is being serviced to remove bed bugs.
- Keep Clark County Beautiful awarded the city a $300 grant to purchase flowers for the city. A 50% off sale allowed the city to actually receive $600 worth of flowers with the grant money.
- Deputy Allender’s cruiser needs to be serviced for a failing air conditioning vent.
- A selection for city finance director has been made and will be announced shortly.
- Another police cruiser is in the shop currently.
- Our newest police vehicle was just picked up from the shop and will resume service immediately.
After that the discussion shifted to the Memorial Day walk and its poor turnout. Citizens were then given an opportunity to address council directly about issues. Mention of daytime noise issues was made and council agreed to discuss that in a work session.
The most notable occurrence during the citizens’ portion of the meeting was when a young woman asked the council if they had made any progress with regards to treating one another respectfully in public. All council members denied any issues between themselves.
Then, around 33 minutes into the meeting (the video below will start at this moment), councilman Mike Lowrey brings it to the attention of the meeting that Mayor Reynolds hasn’t filed city taxes since 2012. There is a discussion about whether he has paid but not filed, and it is determined that he paid each year, but did not file. City Law Director Lynnette Dinkler explained that not filing taxes is a violation of the city charter and, further, a first degree misdemeanor criminal offense.
A shocking revelation was then presented by Bridge, as he revealed that Mayor Reynolds has been presented with tax filing reminders at least twice, once by mail and once in person at a city council meeting in that very venue. Councilman Aaron Leighty noted that there have been many examples of inappropriate misconduct by Mayor Reynolds and Vice Mayor Lindsey, but that “we have shown grace, and time and time again we’ve asked them to show grace. We haven’t always seen it.”
Mrs. Dinkler explained that she has been given a recommendation about how to proceed from the Ohio Ethics Commission.
Things reached a critical point around 45 minutes in (see video below for the exact moment) when Councilman Lowrey called for a motion to remove Mayor Reynolds from office, citing misconduct in violation of the city charter.
After discussing the specifics and legal jargon required to make this happen, the video cuts. The frame immediately shows Councilman Ron Cobb’s seat empty. A source inside the meeting told Main & Lake that Mr. Cobb left due to health issues.
After Mr. Leighty’s hints that many issues of misconduct haven’t been brought to light, Mr. Lowrey proposed a motion to waive attorney-client privilege to bring these issues into the public. Lowrey, Leighty, and Councilman Bill Cook voted yes, whiel Mayor Reynolds, Vice Mayor Lindsey, and Councilman Chris Shamy voted no. This resulted in a failed motion.
Shortly after this vote, a controversial email signature used by both Mayor Reynolds and Vice Mayor Lindsey was mentioned. According to Mr. Bridge, the signature states “I have the honor to be your obedient servant.” Finding it unprofessional and possibly hostile, Mayor Reynolds and Vice Mayor Lindsey were asked to remove it, and according to Mrs. Dinkler and Mr. Leighty, both failed to do so. Mr. Lindsey argued that the signature was within his constitutional rights and claimed Thomas Jefferson used a similar signature for letters.
Things took a bizarre turn around the 1:08:25 mark of the meeting (see video below for the exact moment). City Manager Bridge explained that Vice Mayor Lindsey approached him privately to inquire about his sexual orientation:
“Mr. Lindsey came to my office, probably two months ago, two and a half months ago, and asked me my sexual preference. As an openly gay male I was highly offended that he did that.” – Randy Bridge
After some quibbling about whether the email signature was added before or after this comment was made to Mr. Bridge, the city manager can be heard saying “I’m so embarrassed. I’m not taking this s*** anymore.”
Mr. Leighty then pleaded with council to put aside petty grievances and work together to manage the city to the best of their ability. He follows that up by introducing a motion to remove Vice Mayor Lindsey. Mr. Lowrey once again asks for a council vote to waive attorney-client privilege regarding certain private issues within council, and this time the motion passes, 6-0.
Lastly, Mr. Lowrey claims that Mr. Lindsey engaged in inappropriate conduct at the Heritage of Flight Festival and even personally drove New Carlisle News photographer and reporter Andy Grimm to his lawyer’s office. This is notable, according to Mr. Lowrey, because Grimm has pending litigation against the city after he was shot by a deputy last year.
Where does this leave our city council?
According to Mrs. Dinkler, a hearing will be done within 30 days to determine the fate of Mayor Reynolds and Vice Mayor Lindsey. Executive session planning is being done to address other issues brought up in the early portion of the meeting, including a daytime noise ordinance and peddler’s permits.
Any questioning of the personal life of the city manager — or any city employee, for that matter — is uncalled for unless it affects the day to day operation of the city. It is the opinion of this website that Vice Mayor Lindsey should resign or be removed, if necessary. The alleged conflict of interest regarding Lindsey’s affiliation with Grimm is irrelevant. One is capable of recognizing an injustice has been done and still be a loyal public servant.
With Mayor Reynolds’ situation, it is more of a grey area. While five tax years is a long time to go without filing — especially if reminders were sent out — he did pay the money owed each year. To me, this issue is a matter of neglect, not deceit. Mayor Reynolds appears to be a very ambitious young politician. It will be interesting to see how this affects his career going forward.
Regardless how this all plays out, we have a massive divide in our council. After these events, I can’t see that divide shrinking. The next council election cycle is going to be of monumental importance for our city, as we all must decide which faction can better run this city. Of course it would be ideal if the men we already elected could put aside petty squabbles and govern rather than play dress up as Washington politicians.