MUNROE FALLS — A packed house was on hand as City Council discussed a proposal to reprimand one of its members on Tuesday.
Six council members have sponsored legislation to publicly reprimand Council Member Mike Barnes in connection with a public records lawsuit that Barnes filed against the city in August 2018. In a settlement agreement in the case filed in July, all parties "agreed to fully and finally settle all matters relating to the Complaint and the Counterclaim."
The reprimand legislation received a first reading at Tuesday’s council meeting. Council will continue the discussion at its committee meetings Aug. 13.
About 30 residents attended the meeting and several shared their objections to the potential reprimand during a meeting that was contentious at times.
"There’s a significant amount of dysfunction on this council," said Linda Piccirillo-Smith. She noted there is "distrust," "miscommunication" and "poor communication" among council members.
"The reprimand is symbolic of that," said Piccirillo-Smith.
Sam Busic called the proposed reprimand "petty" and "spiteful."
Yvonne Cherkala added she was "pretty embarrassed to live in Munroe Falls."
After the legislation was read into the record, Barnes said he wanted to add exhibits to the resolution that would respond to statements in the legislation about interactions between the city and Barnes in connection with the lawsuit. Council Member John Hegnauer said he thought it was "important" for Council to review the information that Barnes presented.
Though he is one of the sponsors of the legislation, Heganuer raised concerns about the proposed reprimand.
"I’m having a rough time with this," said Hegnauer. "If this takes place, in my opinion, this sets a precedent to anyone who disagrees with anyone else on Council and I have a problem with that." Hegnauer said he would like to explore the possibility of taking a different course of action.
Barnes noted that the legislation did not carry any weight. Hegnauer said that lack of substance was "one of the problems I have with it."
However, Barnes then observed, "It still is an attack on me and even if it dies tonight ... the damage is still done."
Through questioning from Barnes, Hegnauer revealed that the general government services committee did not have a meeting to discuss the legislation prior bringing to the council floor.
"That concerns me greatly," said Barnes.
Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at 330-541-9421, firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.