Code Enforcement Appointments Shot Down in Erlanger Squabble
The final meeting of the current Erlanger city council continued to display the discord among its members, with a fight over code enforcement appointments and the resignation of a longtime city attorney.
For the story on the resignation of attorney Frank Wichmann, click here.
Changes to the code enforcement board in Erlanger caused disagreement among the city council at this week's meeting, resulting in a vote that defeated outgoing Mayor Tyson Hermes's proposed replacements.
Hermes, who as mayor is authorized to make such nominations for council approval, announced Denise Sterbling and Gary Wildt to join the five-member board.
But longtime board members Earl Franks and Hubert Miller had not been consulted about their appointments not being renewed, it was revealed.
"Did all of these people quit?," asked Councilman Kevin Burke.
Mayor Hermes said that the two current members did not quit, but had simply finished their terms. Hermes added that he did not speak with Franks or Miller prior to deciding that he would not reappoint them, but had thanked them in the past for their service.
Burke said that he would not support the new nominees until Franks and Miller were notified. He was supported in that move by other members of council.
"I totally agree," Councilwoman Patty Suedkamp said. "I am totally against the way this is going down. I can't believe this is happening, if they are doing the job well. Yes, it's an appointment, but I think it is the least we can do to ask them. It is a respect thing."
Burke and Suedkamp were joined by council members Renee Skidmore, Don Skidmore, Randy Blankenship, Steve Montgomery, and Kathy Cahill in defeating Hermes's nominees.
The vote follows a contentious election for mayor in the city, Kenton County's third largest. The overwhelming majority of council members supported council member Randy Blankenship while Hermes supported council member Jessica Fette. Hermes did not seek reelection as mayor, instead running for and winning a seat on council.
Fette won the mayor's race.
Hermes said that his proposed additions to the code enforcement board is not a reflection of the work by the current members who would be replaced. He said there were other people interested in serving.
Hermes also said that he does not agree with the timing of such appointments because they tend to come at the end of a current mayor's term, and should be left to the next mayor. He said he is working with City Administrator Matthew Kremer to adjust the timing for future appointments.
However, Mayor-elect Fette said that while campaigning, she found that many Erlanger residents were interested in serving on boards. She said that the nominees presented by Hermes are her choices, too.
Councilman Don Nicely supported the change, arguing that when a person's time is up, someone else can be appointed.
"The bottom line for me is, I just think it is a respectful thing to do, to ask if these people are ready to give up their position," Suedkamp said. "I don't think there is anything wrong with that. And I hate the thought that at your last meeting that we're going to argue about something over respect. I hate that."
Hermes said that there should be respect for him, too.
"I'm just saying, it is the right thing to do," said Suedkamp."Respectfully, it is the right thing to do."
"To me, it sounds more like an excuse," Hermes said.
"An excuse for what?" Suedkamp asked.
"I mean, had I called these people, I think you would still have an issue," said Hermes. "It's a matter that things are changing, and I know that's hard."
"No. No. You have always mis-read me, Tyson," Suedkamp said. "And we can discuss it here, on open mic, if you would like. I don't like your tactics. I never have and I never will. It is a manipulation."
Councilwoman Vicki Kyle spoke up to say if she had been on a committee for a number of years, she wouldn't want to find out by surprise that she wasn't on the the committee any more. She said she would appreciate somebody saying something instead of finding out suddenly.
Hermes said he would be glad to sit down with these gentlemen and explain what was happening.
"And that's what you should have done, Tyson," Suedkamp said.
City Attorney Jack Gatlin said if no appointment was made, the code enforcement board could make the appointments after 60 days. He suggested they revisit the issue in January, and that is what was decided.
Written by Patricia A. Scheyer, RCN contributor
Photo: Erlanger council meeting (RCN)