Angry accusations between Glen Rose City Council member Chris Bryant and Mayor Pam Miller involving alleged lies being told erupted during Monday’s special City Council meeting before a 3-1 vote confirmed a motion by City Administrator Michael Leamons that was meant to clarify the separation of powers.
However, one of the parties involved said the action resolved nothing.
After Bryant had a chance during the open public meeting to voice some of his complaints, which he said stemmed from a city employee at Oakdale Park being denied a chance to speak to the Council, Mayor Miller also spoke before the large crowd of attendees.
“We’ve had several meetings where your tone of voice is uncalled for,” Miller said. “You try to belittle people here, and when people try to stand up to you, you get mad. And I do apologize for what I’m about to say, that you have the ability to make someone’s life a living hell. And I am sorry for saying that, but it is the truth.”
At one point Bryant asked if he could speak again and Miller said, “If you are going to tell the truth.”
Later, Bryant responded to a point Miller made by claiming, “So you just lied.”
That was all after Leamons had kicked off the meeting and asserted that grievances can be resolved if a “concentrated effort” is made to observe the division of powers between the legislative and executive branches of local government.
Leamons “moved that the City Council acknowledge the executive and legislative boundaries and follow those boundaries.”
With one council member, Julia Douglas, absent from the meeting, Bryant was the lone “no” vote on that motion while Jack Johnson, Richard Vaughn and Johnny Martin voted to accept Leamons’ motion.
Leamons made a presentation to the council on the fundamentals of what he noted was “the doctrine of separation of powers,” saying that it “is foundational to our form of government,” and is “not limited to the federal government.”
Bryant read from a text message he had sent, which said he had “had it with the administration and I do not care what the city attorney (Brady Pendleton) advised. I have lost faith in our city attorney.”
Miller told Bryant he had overstepped his bounds in the matter involving the employee’s grievance, and added, “You have no authority to interfere with city administration. You don’t act in an official manner unless we are all together.”
Miller added, “We’re going to have to get back to doing the business of the city and doing what we, as elected officials, are to do.
“We are not trying to hide anything. If we have something to discuss that needs to be out in public, it’s going to be out in public. There are things that we have given permission to the city administrator to take care of and we, as a team, need to support that.”
Bryant stated, “There are times when I do want to challenge people, especially when I feel like an employee is being silenced, or if I feel like an employee is being bullied, I am going to step up and you are going to hear from me. You’re going to hear from me very loudly about it.
“If you want to silence me, you can try. Temperament is not a city violation of our code of (conduct). I can be as loud as I need to be without screaming or (being) derogatory or threatening.”
Miller again referred to the proper chain of command within the City Council structure.
“We have accepted that, we have voted on it, we need to do it,” she said. “If we cannot follow the chain of command as in our personnel policy, why do we have one?”
After the meeting ended, Leamons told the Glen Rose Reporter, “I was very happy we were able to resolve the issue on a very high plane, and maintaining proper boundaries between the legislative and executive branches that makes for a good, functioning government.”
Leamons explained that the city’s personnel policy states that a grievance made by an employee must be filed in writing within five days of when the incident occurred.
But Bryant, also after the meeting, stated, “The outcome of this meeting tonight did not resolve anything at all. All it did was establish what our policies or ordinances are. We understand those.”
Bryant explained that the incident stems from “some concerns our Oakdale Park manager had about running Oakdale properly. His concerns weren’t being heard. He filed a grievance process and it was denied. He went through the administrator, he went through the mayor and still requested to talk to the council. He was still being denied that. The question is, when he did the grievance, did he do it in a timely manner.”
Referring to his text message, Bryant said after the meeting, “The mayor said I demanded it when my (text message) wording was ‘suggest.’ She changed the entire format of my text to make it look like I was the culprit or the bad guy pursuing this, which I’m not. We’re just trying to get a problem solved but the bottom line is they’re wanting to silence a city employee from speaking to the council about some of the issues at Oakdale Park.”
When asked why he thought that might be, Bryant said, “We don’t know. We want to hear that. As it stands now, I’ve suggested an executive session in the December meeting to discuss the issues that we’re having and why we are not getting to hear that employee’s concerns.”
Miller, however, said she believed the vote should settle the matter.
“I think the best thing for the whole city is for us to work together, be sure we’re following policy — policy and procedures and I think we all really had the same concept and the same ideas. We just need to follow policies and procedures,” she said.