PDT Staff Writer
The city must establish a plan for the future and seize challenges as opportunities, Portsmouth City Councilman Bob Mollette wrote in a letter to City Council President Howard Baughman.
“There are many challenges facing our community and I am positive by maintaining a questioning attitude and involving the public we will meet those challenges,” Mollette wrote.
Baughman said the council is investigating Mollette's conduct after Police Chief Charles Horner asked it to.
He also said Mollette could be removed from City Council once the investigation is completed.
Horner was upset that Mollette printed correspondence from a Cincinnati law firm regarding a $5,000 settlement on his Web site, www.mollette.info.
Mollette said he would not have posted the letter had it been marked confidential.
“I raise objections to the false accusations implied by our police chief and supported by our mayor,” he said. “I assure you, I welcome any investigation by Council for ending such conduct by elected officials and for raising expectations. All I request is adequate time to allow proper representation and notification of witnesses, as needed.”
Mayor Jim Kalb did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment.
Mollette said City Council meetings have become a “circus sideshow.”
“I am frustrated by the documented uncontrolled poor conduct by our elected and appointed officials during our City Council meetings,” he said.
There were numerous arguments among city officials at last week's regular and special meetings.
“Our city government must maintain clear communication and transparent managing to encourage accountability,” Mollette said. “This will only occur if citizens are well informed and believe their opinion matters. As elected officials, we must not fear the public.”
Instead, elected officials must involve the public to form a plan and achieve their goals, he said. He suggested letting members of the public talk about issues during the conference portion of City Council meetings.
People get two five-minute opportunities to speak during the legislative portion of meetings.
Mollette also said the city Web site, www.portsmouth.oh.us.index.html, should be updated regularly to include all public records that are presented to Council before meetings. The site should include passed legislation too, he said.
Another way to involve the public is to televise City Council meetings on the local access cable television channel, Mollette said.
City Council has discussed doing so in the past, but has yet to do so.
“We must find ways to create an environment that encourages public involvement,” Mollette said. “I am guided by the fact that I am a servant and not a ruler.”
JEFF BARRON can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 236.