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Divided Arnold City Council Butts Heads on Three Votes

A growing divide between Ward 1 Councilwoman Doris Borgelt and Mayor Ron Counts was evident during the Arnold City Council meeting last Thursday. Borgelt will run against the mayor in April 2013.

The divide between two groups on the Arnold City Council grew wider last Thursday after each side butted heads three times.

The groups were divided into two camps: one with Ward 1 Councilwoman Doris Borgelt and the other with Mayor Ron Counts. Both have announced their intent to run for mayor in April 2013.

How it started Thursday

It began Thursday when Borgelt took the floor and accused the council of trying to wrongly impeach one of their own.

“We as a council held a closed session that was supposed to be regarding personnel. In reality, that session was closed in an attempt to oust a fellow city council member. When he was not receptive to resigning, an attempt to force him out by drawing up articles of impeachment was discussed,” Borgelt said.

She said the public should ask for an audit from the state and that this action violated Missouri’s open meeting laws.

“Ms. Borgelt, by stepping down to the podium, actually took herself out of the umbrella of city protection. She’s not really doing this right,” responded Ward 2 Councilman Bill Moritz.

City Attorney Robert Sweeney said Borgelt refrained from naming anyone discussed during the closed session. He confirmed that actions against elected officials need to be handled in public view, but that the council did not take any such actions.

City officials would not state on the record who was asked to resign or was threatened with impeachment.

Second scuffle of the evening

Later in the evening, Counts attempted to appoint a new member to the Planning Commission. Counts suggested Jason Fulbright, an independent contractor and volunteer at the Arnold Farmer’s Market, to replace retiring Roy Wilde. The appointment needed the approval of the council, but was voted down 5 to 3.

Ward 2 Councilwoman Michelle Hohmeier, who often votes with Borgelt, asked about Fulbright’s background. She said his resume listed work in local campaigns.

“Do we know whose city campaign he his working on?” asked Hohmeier.

The mayor responded that he did not know who Fulbright was working for and that it would be irrelevant.

“The last time I spoke with Jason, he said he was your campaign manager,” Borgelt said.

“No, ma'am, he’s not my campaign manager,” Counts responded firmly. “You got your wires crossed lady.”

Borgelt and Hohmeier voted against the appointment, along with Ward 4 Councilwoman Sandra Kownacki, Ward 4 Councilman Kenneth Moss and Ward 1 Councilwoman Christine Lang.

Borgelt told Patch it wasn’t just politics when she voted against Fulbright.

“He’s in Ward 2. That would make five members from Ward 2,” she said. The council is not required to pick a planning commissioner from each ward, but Borgelt said it wouldn’t be fair to have a majority of members from the same ward.

The final divisive issue

The most unusual show of political turmoil came up during a vote to go into closed executive session after the open meeting. A closed session vote is normally passed without question, but this night was voted down 5 to 3. Borgelt, Hohmeier, Kownacki, Moss and Lang again stood together and voted against going into closed session.

Sweeney told Patch that he has never seen a council refuse to go into closed session. He also said there was an important real estate issue that needed immediate council attention during the private session and could jeopardize about 200 new jobs coming to the city.

Lang told Patch after the meeting that council members were not informed of the executive session’s agenda and that she and others did not feel comfortable heading into a closed meeting uninformed. She was confident the council would call an emergency executive session if it was needed before the next meeting, which is scheduled for Oct. 18.

The city council is only required by law to reveal issues that are voted on during closed session. Specific items under discussion are not required to be made public.

Doris Borgelt October 12, 2012 at 10:39 PM
It is clear that Callie is yet another ficititious name injecting a comment that has no basis in fact. Anyone even remotely familiar with politics in Arnold knows, that I present facts and figures to the people and let them be the judge. The embarrassment to the city is that the people footing the bills (taxpayers)have been paying for some politicians to line the pockets of their former business partners, friends and subsidize corporate donors building projects. Hundreds of thousands of dollars have literally been thrown away for their experimentation and entertainment! It is time to take the city back and return control to the people. Open the doors, let the sunshine in and stop all of the back room deals that have undeniably been going on for many years. The Attorney General's Office and the State Auditor's Office along with any other investigative body involved will ultimately be the ones who determine who is operating lawfully and who is not! So, we shall see as far as I'm concerned it has been a long time coming.
Bill Moritz October 13, 2012 at 01:57 AM
Doris you have repeatedly made the comment that the politician who was on the council when the property at the intersection of Michigan/Ridgecrest and Jeffco has lined the pocket of a former business partner. The only guy who was on the council then was Amato. Are you implying that Amato somehow got the city to payoff a business partner for the acquisition of the Allen property? Why don't you end the half-truths and allegations. If you have something that states someone on the council did something wrong, then share it with the city. I saw you had admonished Linda Van de Reit quite sternly with the sugegstion that she not post unless she all had the facts. Be stand-up enough to hold yourself to the same standard. Fess up.
Matt Hay October 13, 2012 at 02:52 AM
Unimproved, was that property in its highest and best use?
Sheri Gassaway October 13, 2012 at 03:16 AM
Bill, I see no reference in Doris' comment regarding: "The politician who was on the council when the property at the intersection of Michigan/Ridgecrest and Jeffco has lined the pocket of a former business partner. The only guy who was on the council then was Amato. Are you implying that Amato somehow got the city to payoff a business partner for the acquisition of the Allen property?"
Sheri Gassaway October 13, 2012 at 03:30 AM
Arnold Patch is, and always will be under my watch, a respectable news site within the community. Here are the rules to commenting: Stay on topic (of the article); no hate speeches; no obscenities; no name calling; no personal attacks (or implications of) and no advertising. If you choose to ignore our terms of service, your account will be suspended. If you believe there is something amiss that needs further investigation, feel free to call me. - Sheri, 314-409-1086.

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