Two Riverside city council members say they won’t resign
RIVERSIDE (GTNS) — The Riverside City Council discussed Pat Callahan’s recommendation letter to the council Monday, and the discussion became heated quickly.
Callahan, a consultant with Snyder and Associates, wrote a letter to the council in which he recommended three of the five councilors resign as a way to dampen tensions that have flared among the councilors.
Councilor Bob Schneider said he would agree to resign provided two other councilors, Nate Kasdorf and Christine Kirkwood, also resign.
“For the discussion, according to what he has made up for us, the only way this will work is if myself, Nate, and Chris resign, and if we’re all sincere in how we feel about this community, we’ll allow the voters to make that decision and accept the votes,” Schneider said. “I am going to go along with this. I have a letter sitting right here. If the other two council people he’s referring to accept his letter.”
Kasdorf said he thought Callahan’s plan was a great idea but he wouldn’t resign.
“I know I said in the paper that I was willing to do that, myself, but essentially I’ve talked to ‘iffy’ people and they’ve all told me not to because I’ve already been elected,” Kasdorf said, “and I shouldn’t have to get re-elected to finish out the term I’ve already been elected for.”
He questioned Callahan’s call for unity in the letter. He said when it comes to voting on big items there would be a division in the council. However, he said he thought the council agreed on most items and the voting records would reflect this.
If the three councilors resigned, as Callahan suggested, and were re-elected it would be a vote of confidence from the voters, Schneider said. It would ultimately be up to them.
Kasdorf saw things differently. He said there would be changes coming in November, whether or not he resigned, because three people wouldn’t be there possibly.
Mayor Bill Poch said two council member positions were up for re-election and his position as mayor.
“That’s a pretty good chunk of the number of people up there,” Kasdorf said. “It’s going to change or it could change or it might not change. Now if it doesn’t change, that’s not because Chris or I didn’t resign—that’s because they re-voted these three back in, if they all decide to run again, or they voted for somebody else if they decide to run. It has nothing to do with whether we resign or not.”
Callahan’s plan to get five like-minded people on the council puzzled Kasdorf. Kasdorf wasn’t sure five people could agree to vote the same all the time and there would always be a chance of someone voting against the others.
Once again, Kasdorf and Schneider could not see eye-to-eye. Schneider said this was a chance for voters to get something positive going in the community. The only two positive things he’s seen in the last two years were hiring city administrator Rusty Rogerson and deputy clerk Lory Young.
“As far as the council, we’re very dysfunctional,” Schneider said. “I don’t care what you say, if it’s three-two, four-one, or five-zero, we’re dysfunctional. He tried to come back to us to give us this recommendation and we were so dysfunctional that we wouldn’t allow him to come back and allow him the opportunity to speak to us in person.”
Poch agreed with Schneider’s statement. He said at the meeting the night before there wasn’t a motion to have Callahan return but a consensus in the group. Kirkwood was the only one who said no. In open government, decisions should only be made in council chambers, not afterward.
“The decisions are made here in this room as a group,” Poch said, “not afterwards going out and then changing your mind.”
“Bill, we didn’t vote,” Kiene said.
Poch said although a vote wasn’t taken an informal poll of the council was taken. At the meeting, all but one council member agreed to invite Callahan back.
“Then you went out independently and you said we don’t want to do it,” Poch said. “We’ve got to make the decisions right here in this room. That’s not right. That’s not right.”
Kiene said he told Callahan his opinion and didn’t tell him not to come to the meeting. He said it was Callahan’s choice as stated in the letter.
“But we had a consensus at the meeting,” Poch said.
“I changed my mind,” Kiene said. “OK?”
For a few moments Poch and Kiene argued about whether Kiene was allowed to change his mind. Poch tried to get Kiene to state why he changed his mind during the meeting and Kiene told him this was all he had to say on the topic.
For the first time during the discussion Kirkwood spoke up about Callahan’s letter. She said she ran as an Independent and never took sides.
She asked citizens to contact their council members to express their opinion. She also said if someone couldn’t run for city council, then they should vote.
After Kirkwood spoke, Poch asked the council if there were any more comments.
Councilor Ralph Schnoebelen said the council should forget Callahan’s plan because it wasn’t going to work.
After this, Poch opened the discussion up to citizen comments.
Riverside resident Kevin Mills said the council should do what Callahan asked.
“Our council doesn’t work,” Mills said. “The last two years pretty well have stated that. I want everybody to step up.”
Mills said there is too much animosity between the current council, which has caused a lot of time and money to be wasted. He said the way some of the council members have acted has been childish and things need to change.
“You guys better do something,” Mills said. “You can’t continue to go the way you’re going. It doesn’t work.”
Resident Mariellen Bower also spoke. She said she respected Mills’s position but added she did not believe the councilors were selfish just because they wanted to finish their terms.
“I’m sorry, but these people were legitimately put here,” she said.
Bower also said those three council members should have a chance to finish up their remaining terms.