Killeen Mayor Dan Corbin, former Mayor Tim Hancock and the candidates vying for the city’s top-elected post agree they would have handled Tuesday night’s volatile council workshop meeting differently.
The meeting quickly escalated into a shouting match as the council and Hancock discussed using funds in a Killeen Volunteers Inc. account for the Nov. 5, 2009, Fort Hood shooting memorial.
Hancock originally went before the council in January requesting city staff look into whether the council had authority over $27,000 in the KVI account to legally award it to the memorial fund if it wanted to do so. The funds were left over from the city’s 125th birthday celebration. The money has been in an account since 2007 with the intention of erecting a fountain to honor the city’s history.
During the heated discussion, Corbin requested a police officer present at the meeting remove Hancock for being out of order.
Corbin said Wednesday that in retrospect, he would have handled the situation differently.
“One of the things that I did ... was tell former Mayor Hancock that he was out of order,” Corbin said. “I shouldn’t have done that. If I had it to do over again, I wouldn’t tell him that he was out of order. I would have said, ‘This meeting is out of order; we need to have order,’ instead of making it personal.”
Hancock said he believes the meeting got out of hand when Corbin interrupted him. As Hancock addressed the council, Corbin interjected, saying, “I think we understand those facts,” and then proceeded to address the city finance director regarding who the funds belong to.
“I began to try to explain to the council why I was there and before I could really get going, Mr. Corbin held up his hand ... he cut me off,” Hancock said. “I don’t think that was appropriate for him to cut me off without asking me, ‘Are you finished?’ The correct thing would have been to let me finish.”
After a consensus was taken, Corbin allowed Hancock to return to the lectern to address the council. Hancock told the council, “I apologize for asking you to support soldiers.” Corbin and several people in the audience responded with, “That’s ridiculous.”
Corbin said he “shouldn’t have done that,” in reference to giving Hancock the floor after the vote. “I had a feeling he was going to do something like he did. We had already decided the issue, so there was no need for him to make the presentation, but I always like to let people talk.”
Corbin said he felt Hancock’s comment “accused us of not supporting the troops, which I thought was totally offensive.”
Hancock said his intention with his comment to the council was to “say I am sorry that I have put you in this position,” not to call into account the council’s support of Fort Hood.
As a whole, Corbin said he believes he handled the meeting as best he could in the situation.
Mayoral candidate Scott Cosper said had he been in Corbin’s position, he would “go to great lengths to be courteous and respectful at all times, even during tense moments.”
“Many times, the council will have issues before them in which people are passionate, and sometimes emotions get involved,” he said. “During those times, as mayor, it is very important to be respectful, courteous and patient. The mayor’s job is to keep decorum and a polite, professional atmosphere.”
Mayoral candidate Dick Young said he was “shocked” and “felt ashamed” as the meeting progressed. “I thought there was a lack of civility, a lack of decorum and a total lack of respect,” he said. “I believe that when people come in front of the council — being that the mayor and the council are elected by the people to do the people’s work — that the citizens should have the expectation that they are going to be heard, and that they are going to be listened to.”
Young said had he been in Corbin’s position, he would “listen and ... run the meetings.”
“I am not there to interject my personal feelings as mayor,” he said. “I believe as mayor, I need to be the person to lead (the council) and not use it as a bully pulpit. (Residents) deserve an opportunity to talk. If we would do more listening to the citizens, then we would do a better job of running the city.”
Contact Natalie Stewart at firstname.lastname@example.org or 254-501-7555