By Jackie Stone
Killeen Daily Herald
NOLANVILLE - The City Council issued a public reprimand to Mayor Charlie Stewart at a special meeting Wednesday night after a dispute between city employees and the mayor disrupted the city's Spring Clean-Up last week.
After a 90-minute executive session that included the city attorney, the council voted 4-1 in favor of the reprimand. It stated, among other things, "Mayor Charles L. Stewart attempted to use his public office to obtain services at taxpayer expense that was not available to members of the public."
Beginning June 23, the city began what was to be a weeklong Spring Clean-Up.
Residents would be allowed to drop off trash in containers behind the Nolanville Fire Department, as long as those items were not hazardous materials or from "contractor or demolition projects," according to a city flier.
According to written statements and complaints from city staff, council members and one resident, Stewart came to the cleanup around 2 p.m. Thursday to drop off materials that appeared to be from a demolition.
In his statement, the public works assistant who was monitoring the drop-offs said when he told the mayor his materials weren't allowed, Stewart responded, "I am the mayor," and would dump his materials.
"What really upset me was that the mayor was yelling at me like I was a child getting a scolding," the statement from Patrick Dunham reads. "I am not a child, and no one has the right to treat me like one for doing my job."
Stewart said Wednesday that he disputed whether the wood he brought was building materials, and "it's an opinion type thing."
According to reports, after Dunham fetched Public Works Director Bob Pena for help, residents including Councilman Skip Matthews witnessed the argument continuing between the mayor and city staff.
The cleanup was closed after discussions between city staff and council members including Mayor Pro Tem Ken Miller. The mayor questioned the council's authority, and personally reopened the site for some residents for the rest of the afternoon.
At Wednesday's meeting, City Attorney Alan Bojorquez clarified that when staff members have problems with the mayor, it is standard to turn to the mayor pro tem.
According to the statements, throughout the afternoon the mayor argued with council members and city staff members. His behavior was characterized as rude, inappropriate, and "it made for a very stressful and uncomfortable work environment."
Councilwoman Christina Rosenthal voted against the reprimand. She said she objected to some of the language in it and that she had spoken privately with Stewart.
Bojorquez said the reprimand is a political statement of the group's position, not any legal instrument or action.
Pena said the cleanup will be rescheduled for sometime in July and the rules and restrictions will be the same.
Contact Jackie Stone at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7474. Follow her on Twitter at KDHcoveeditor.