A discussion about redesignating funds in order to benefit the Nov. 5, 2009, Fort Hood shooting memorial led to a shouting match between Mayor Dan Corbin and former Mayor Tim Hancock at Tuesday’s Killeen City Council workshop.
Hancock requested the city look into allocating approximately $27,000 left over in a Killeen Volunteers Inc. fund toward the memorial.
He originally went before the council last month requesting city staff look into whether it has jurisdiction over those funds and could legally allocate them to the memorial.
The funds were to go toward a fountain to mark the city’s 125th anniversary in 2007.
After a lengthy and sometimes heated discussion, Corbin proceeded to take a consensus of the council regarding the funds.
Hancock interrupted, and a shouting match ensued, with Corbin yelling at Hancock, “You’re out of order. Everybody just keep quiet.”
Corbin requested a Killeen police officer present at the meeting “escort them out if they’re not going to be quiet,” referring to the crowd, which had became unruly.
Hancock fired back at Corbin, saying, “You can’t make me be quiet.”
Hancock then retreated and stayed at the meeting after agreeing to remain in order.
In a 5 to 2 consensus, council members denied redesignation of the funds.
Council members Jonathan Okray and Steve Harris favored using the funds for the memorial.
The intense debate resulted in Corbin calling for a five-minute break in the meeting.
After Hancock’s initial comments requesting the KVI funds, former Mayor Pro Tem Kathy Gilmore — who served on the committee that raised money for the city’s 125th celebration — said the money should be used for the intent it was raised for.
“I raised that money, with a committee, in good faith that we were going to do something for the 125th birthday celebration,” she told the council. “That’s on you. ... if you decide to give this money to another entity that was raised under the pretense of doing a monument for the city’s 125th birthday celebration.”
City Attorney Kathy Davis said the city has the authority to allocate the money to the memorial.
The discussion sparked debate among current and former council members, with tensions rising as the discussion continued.
Councilman Steve Harris said he believes “with the circumstances,” residents would be OK with the city redesignating the funds.
“I don’t think the citizens would mind that memorial being built,” he said. “In my opinion, I don’t think a lot of people would (mind) being that we are a military town and we would be showing our support.”
Mayor Pro Tem Elizabeth Blackstone said she agreed with Gilmore that the funds should be used as intended.
“(The money) was raised for something for our city, and this memorial is for the people who were killed at Fort Hood and none of them were city residents; (it’s) not the same thing,” she said. “I would prefer to see the money go (toward) what it was raised for.”
After the five-minute break, Councilman Terry Clark said the discussion made him sick.
“The council has pulled into a discussion that is politicizing the deaths of American heroes over $27,000,” he said. “That is making me ill to my stomach. That’s bothering me.”
Following the council’s decision, Hancock told the council, “I apologize for asking you to support soldiers.”
Corbin, along with several members of the audience, responded to Hancock, saying “That’s ridiculous.”
Contact Natalie Stewart at firstname.lastname@example.org or 254-501-7555