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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Mayor can decide how to fill vacancies

Friday, December 30, 2011

McCOOK, Nebraska -- The McCook City Council will direct city staff to declare notice of vacancies for the seats formerly occupied by Council members Aaron Kircher and Shane Hilker, Tuesday evening, 7:30 p.m., during their semi-monthly meeting at Memorial Auditorium.

According to City Attorney Nate Schneider, Mayor Dennis Berry has the right to call a special election in lieu of filling the vacated positions via the appointment process. A special election would put selection of the two City Council positions up to voters in the area, as opposed to being chosen by the three current City Council members.

According to Red Willow County Clerk Pauletta Gerver the special election that took place in 2007 cost approximately $6,000 to carry out. Gerver approximated cost for one today to be between $6,000 and $8,000.

If a special election is not the preferred avenue for Berry, the vacated seats will be filled via the appointment process. The appointment process will begin with public notice posting the vacancies then placing the item on the agenda for the next city council meeting. At that meeting Berry will submit the names of potential council members to be voted on by himself and Council members Mike Gonzales and Jerry Calvin. If a majority vote is received in favor of one of Berry's nominees, the position will be deemed filled.

City Council will also coordinate a public hearing during the meeting to discuss potential water and sewer upgrades that would require an additional rate increase. Several projects have been considered eligible for funding in conjunction with the required cation waste project that has already been budgeted for.

Deciding to proceed with those projects would save the city money in the long run, as they would qualify for a 20 percent loan forgiveness, but the remaining 80 percent would require loan funds and an additional water and sewer rate increase. That increase would be in addition to one that in September caused citizens to accuse city council members of being spend happy and say that even a minimal rate increase was more than they could handle.

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YEP a fully handpicked city council, just what was wanted. Hold on to your hats city of McCook.

-- Posted by ruby4 on Fri, Dec 30, 2011, at 4:16 PM

Well this should be a fun ride for the next year! Good thing elections will be coming up!!

-- Posted by citysupport on Fri, Dec 30, 2011, at 4:22 PM

idle curiosity as I have no dog in this fight. If the persons that were required to vacate their seats upon conviction of a crime, were otherwise eligible to serve on the city council, could they be appointed by the Mayor and could they run for re-election at the next election cycle?

-- Posted by doodle bug on Fri, Dec 30, 2011, at 5:50 PM

Is it the will of the citizens to go without two council people until an election could be held and to spend an additional $6-8,000 or to wait until the Nov. election and have an appointed council until then?

-- Posted by dennis on Fri, Dec 30, 2011, at 8:09 PM

Ruby and youngergeneration, your support of Aaron and Shane is fine but why attack the remaining three council members? They surely did not ask for this problem. They did not commit the legal violation. Why hammer them on their age? Are you discriminating against folks over 40? Why the shots on an appointed council? Two of the council members were appointed but then they easily won election, in fact al five council members were elected and some even re-elected. It seems that you think only one council person reads and studies the information. Just because a person is more vocal than others and whose name is in the paper more than others on council news does not mean all the other council members are brain dead. You bring up your opinion that the council is in lock step in voting except for Aaron. When the votes are 4-1, you are free to think that the one vote is the correct one but clearly the others members feel otherwise. It does not make the one wrong or the four wrong. It just depends which side of an issue you support. I would venture to say that Aaron has not been the only council member voting in the miniority. And to follow your thought pattern, even if Aaron is the lone ranger voting against the odds and if he remaind on the council he would still then be in the minority and the remaining "evil" three council members would not need his vote to "get their way". If you are right, they do not need to have him off the council then. So, why always think the remaing three council members are out to get the others? The city spent city attorney dollars on his opinion and then spent more on a second opinion. Do you think that was spent to "get" Aaron and Shane or to retain them? From my view it was to retain them. How much more should the city spend? How long should the city go with only 3 council persons? So the law sinks. We can agree on that I hope. Now regardless what remaining council people decide, appoint or hold a special election, somebody will be critical. It is not their fault the town is in this mess, it just falls to them to clean it up. Again your support of Aaron and Shane (although I have not seen you support Shane as strongly) is fine but why throw stones at the police, the courts, the remaining three council members, the city attorney and the law firm from Scottsbluff? Remember they did not start this mess.

-- Posted by dennis on Fri, Dec 30, 2011, at 10:01 PM

Good post Dennis.

I am sure the other three are doing a good job and do not warrant the insults given.


Looking at the directly related statutes, it does not disqualify them from running again. It just provides for the forfeiture of their current position. The cross references for the statute also made no implications of disqualification for future office. It pretty much goes on to decide how to fill the vacancy(ies).

However, I didn't take much time looking at all statutes.

-- Posted by bberry on Sat, Dec 31, 2011, at 7:37 AM

This appears to be the PERFECT time for some of those anti-City Council folks to put their names in the hat for consideration. We all know who they are... Let us see some action from these people.

-- Posted by Nick Mercy on Sat, Dec 31, 2011, at 8:09 PM

Thanks bberry.

-- Posted by doodle bug on Sun, Jan 1, 2012, at 9:37 AM

Its much too easy to complain on here and on the radio.. Those that are most vocal will never seek appointment or run for an office because they enjoy stirring the pot, without actually risking anything personally.

Of course "they" will also say they don't have a shot at getting appointed so why try...They always blame the system without actually attempting to make a difference.

-- Posted by myopinion1 on Sun, Jan 1, 2012, at 4:28 PM

Actually myopinion1, one of the gentlemen that has been calling in to the radio has run for council in the past and has been approached by several individuals to consider running again. He is not one of the "they" that you refer to that blame others. He IS one of those rare individuals that is not afraid to speak up, does not make excuses , does not hide his mistakes and is honest. I hope that he considers running, sounds like some honesty and common sense is just what this city government needs. (before you ask- I will not divulge his name, as I have not asked his premission to do so.)

-- Posted by mommily on Sun, Jan 1, 2012, at 6:11 PM

Okay so I have spent the entire weekend deciding whether or not to even respond to the post by Dennis. However I think the record needs to be set straight.

1.) I never called the "other 3 remaining council members evil" I do not even believe that.

2.)Age, not an issue with me, however "life experiences" your words Dennis must be an issue with you.

3.)Appointed member's that's how the remaining 3 started, FACT.

4.)I do not always think the same way Mr. Kircher does and it doesn't matter, majority rules. That is the system, do I think he may study the issues longer harder yes, again my opinion. As for support of Mr. Hilker, he has my full support, but I believe that Mr. Kircher is getting most of the heat, and in return needs support as well. I truly believe in these two. I think mistakes were made, I think if you do the "crime" you do the "time" however I think the way this all went down was unfair. Maybe someone maybe the city attorney needs to let potential council person's know that until it's changed there is a "law" that states....you get the picture. Maybe just maybe we wouldn't be here. We all know that we are not perfect and at any point in time we can be "convicted" of speeding, noise, dogs, cats, etc....but who knew you could be thrown off the council? Apparently not very many.

So in getting those things straight, lets get on with some of the other issues brought up.

First if I had written the paragraph that Dennis wrote I would be hacked to pieces, miss-spelled words one long paragraph, where is the punctuation police and grammar hounds????? Oh right it's only for certain people no favoritism here. See that's my point, it's okay for some but not for all. It's who you know or maybe who you are.

As for the age thing, I have raised children and grandchildren in this town so no....it's not an age thing, it's a plain sight thing, the thing that goes on everyday in this town. Fair treatment is not always fair treatment. FACT! If however you believe that to not be true ask yourselves why when Mr. Hilker was convicted did this "law" not come out in the open then? Why did the "law" only come out when Mr. Kircher received conviction? Why when at a council meeting are some listened to and some are not. Yes you can read the body language when people try to talk, you can tell if the council is listening and when they are bored or could care less. So no pulling the wool over my eyes. Would I personally run for an elected position no, why because I have watched many a good person fall because there are so many closed minded people. Yet no one wants to see it. You all want to play this game like it doesn't affect the city the taxpayers.

As for the question as to whether the lawyer was to retain Mr. Hilker and Mr. Kircher again the games, the County Attorney did not even bring the "law" to the council until Mr. Kircher was convicted, that answer's it's own question.

I really feel bad for these two young men, they tried, they went were most will not tread, yet a technicality throws them off, however would it have thrown off Mr. Hilker, if so why wait till November to bring it up? So yes I think it all stinks all the way around. Everyone loses, with the exception of those who got their way. I wonder if anyone remembers when this actually did happen to McCook once I do believe a Mr. Lietner was the elected but not yet seated person who had a conviction that was fast tracked to avoid any issues once seated. Yep the law was known about, and has been for quite some time. So yes it does look fishy to me. The comment from Dennis when asked if a zoning violation would result in the same action, and Dennis your response was "only if convicted" really so it's okay to know a "law" is being broken but if not convicted no biggy, no ethics, no values, just okay, only if convicted. So is anybody really going to tell me there is not a "good ole boy system" in this town. Throw stones, really just stating what I see, my opinion. Just as everyone else is doing.

The last thing I want to be is combative but it really makes me sad to believe that truth, honesty, ethics, professionalism, and just plain human kindness has taken a back seat to almost everything.

Do I have my opinion sure, and everyone else is entitled to theirs, however do they have to be mean, and grammar patrol and etc... have I gotten upset you bet, but truly it seems that everyone is so busy trying to one up the last comment that really no one truly is reading or even trying to understand what the other is trying to say.

It's no wonder people are afraid to voice their opinions, or thoughts in public, heck you can't even do it by blog without being belittled and pushed around. Go figure.

-- Posted by ruby4 on Tue, Jan 3, 2012, at 4:27 PM

AMEN ruby 4!!!! Very well said!!!

-- Posted by citysupport on Tue, Jan 3, 2012, at 5:36 PM

I agree ruby and city support. Heck I can not even blog opinion without being belittled and pushed around.

-- Posted by dennis on Tue, Jan 3, 2012, at 7:05 PM

I'm not certain but it seems to me that the statute in focus was not known about by the City Attorney, it was introduced to him by someone else.

That someone else isn't known so it could have been an archenemy of Mr. Kircher trying to strike him down. That individual might have no other qualms with minor infractions of the law, just had a vendetta. ..................................................

ruby, I believe this is exactly what you are saying, am I correct?

This wasn't a well known statute, I find it difficult to believe that anyone, without reason, would be expected to know this statute. There are probably many more out there that we aren't aware of and won't be until it comes to our attention through a similar situation.

-- Posted by Nick Mercy on Tue, Jan 3, 2012, at 8:09 PM

Regarding "life experiences". I think they matter. When going to the dentist I do not want one that has never done a root canal if I am having one. The same is true if my spouse is having an operation on her heart. I would rather have an experienced person build my house, work on my car, do my taxes. That is not saying an inexperienced person could not do a good job, just my choice is experience. Same is true with elected officials. If they have life experiences like a track record of being successful on the job, paying taxes, marrying, birthing, burying, owning property....they may relate to others better. Maybe that is why the mayor appointed Shane to the city housing committee and Aaron to the MEDC Board. That gave them more experience. Our current President of the USA is not very experienced and that is not working out so well.

-- Posted by dennis on Wed, Jan 4, 2012, at 7:49 AM

Nick Mercy yes that is exactly what I have been saying all along. As for the who, well the county attorney made the city attorney aware only after Mr. Kircher's conviction. The rest I will leave you to ponder because it is only speculation on my part. However the exception would be the night the ticket was issued, I gave you the other side of the story.

Dennis regarding the "life experiences" let's see, both Mr. Hilker and Mr. Kircher own homes, so they pay taxes, I believe Mr. Hilker is engaged to be married, Mr. Kircher is still single however that remains his right, birthing well I don't think they can obtain that expectation so I will skip that, I am sure they have both had the experience of losing someone dear to them so they have covered the burying portion, and I covered the owning property in with the paying taxes, they both have stable successful long term jobs. So basing "life experiences" from your point of view they have meant all of the criteria you set forth. So I think I am done with hearing publicly about lack of "life experiences". Having life experiences and having a life are two separate issues both of which are their constitutional right.

I also do believe that Mr. Kircher having been on the city council for almost 8 years which I am sure was a life changing life experience one in which he was very dedicated to. Also several times filling in for an absent mayor and being asked by the mayor if "this is the correct way or format" yes I follow the council very closely, fits somewhere into your "life experience" one would think.

As for the President of the USA I agree not working out so well but it takes a team one in which the American people need to choose better, but that is a whole other issue.

However in saying it takes a team that applies to the city as well, it takes a team that is willing to be equal and work towards the common goal, the good of the people not the "what's in it for me".


That from my view point my opinion is what is lacking at the city level on up. No one can please everyone all the time, no one will ever be able to obtain 100% perfection, but with team work and the attitude of what is the very best for the city for the long term not just the moment. Things may just work, but the who is who and who you know must go away, all things being equal.

Has this situation been a struggle of course. However I still believe it could have been avoided, not swept under the rug, but avoided with all cards laid upon the table not under.

I think I have said enough, again my opinion mine alone.

-- Posted by ruby4 on Wed, Jan 4, 2012, at 10:45 AM

Ruby I think we are finally moving together in our thoughts. I would hope all council members have the character traits you mentioned. Sadly it seems you feel some or all do not. Other than publically knowing who informed the city attorney of the law, I think all the cards were on the table. I still think that instead of thinking the worst about whomever brought the issue to the city attorney, that they did it for the good and protection of the city instead of trying to "get" council members. I do see your point on why it was not mentioned earlier with Mr. Hilker. I have said before and will say it again, I think the entire council---including Mr. Hilker and Mr. Kicher--was/is in it not for personal glory but the good of the community. All brought strenghts (and weaknesses) to the position. Ruby if I have offended you I publicly apologize.

-- Posted by dennis on Wed, Jan 4, 2012, at 11:12 AM

Ruby's point would still go against your idea of this person brought it up for the good of the city. If I understand correctly what you are trying to say that is. What I get from you is that they brought it up so the city could be protected from an invalid vote or votes. If that was the person's true concern they would have brought it up after Shane's conviction.

I went to school with Shane. Played sports with him and all that good stuff. His mother was my band teacher for a number of years. My opinion of him is that he has always been a good person who was fun to be around. Always had a smile on his face. It is unfortunate that a yipping dog was the cause of this for him.

As for Kicher I can not claim to know him other then him taking my money for a movie ticket and some popcorn. But, even then he always seemed to have a smile and was helpful. To bad a good time with friends got him into this.

I think it is a shame that these two were lost to the city of McCook due to an out of date law. Although I respect the law, from the timing of things and what I have read it leads me to the conclusion that this law would have never been brought up if someone wasn't looking for a reason to get one or both removed.

I wish the two good luck in the future with anything the pursue.

-- Posted by carlsonl on Wed, Jan 4, 2012, at 8:04 PM

Well if this truly IS a personal vendetta, then the answer to your concern, "Why wasn't the statute divulged after Mr. Hilker's conviction?" is, no one had a personal vendetta with Mr. Hilker, he was simply caught up in this torrent, as collateral damage, hence, no one cared about an outdated law when Mr. Hilker was found guilty.

Ruby, I feel that you are convinced that it was someone that didn't like the way he voted, or conducted City business. I hadn't seen where the Co. Attorney had informed the City Attorney of the statute, I missed that, but assumptions are tricky, you've suggested that before, by indicating that all the facts should be known before making adverse comments, (I paraphrased). Perhaps it was a disgruntled neighbor poking his/her nose around in the online law chronicles that urged the County Attorney to look into it.

Without ALL the facts, it's difficult to speculate on the motive behind the action of alerting the County Attorney which in turn alerted the City Attorney.

A personal vendetta is not the right reason for a Councilman to be removed from his seat.

For a Councilman to be removed from his seat due to a personal vendetta aimed toward someone else is even more saddening. I do feel compassion for Councilman Hilker as I believe that he was inadvertently drug into this via whatever "personal vendetta" Councilman Kircher had against him. Again, this may not have been a City Council issue at all....... It may have been a personal issue. Many politicians seem to share his plight........... even prior to being elected. Let us hope this statute can be amended to PROPERLY safeguard the public.

-- Posted by Nick Mercy on Thu, Jan 5, 2012, at 10:30 PM

Well said Nick. I was beginning to wonder if we would ever agree. LOL

-- Posted by carlsonl on Thu, Jan 5, 2012, at 10:47 PM

What I find interesting is the fact that not all elected officials aren't held to 'standards', I remember reading in the court records last year of a school board member being convicted of 'open container'. Wonder what kind of message that sent to the students? One member resigned his position because of charges, I guess this other board member just flew under the radar cause it wasn't on the front page.

-- Posted by Ladyg on Fri, Jan 6, 2012, at 4:24 PM

Nick Mercy, I think we are actually seeing the same thing, I as well feel very bad for Mr. Hilker. However I feel just as bad Mr. Kircher as this "vendetta" being aimed at him, has made a huge issue for all concerned. I understand why at times you couldn't see where I was going with my opinions,which is why I just had to say the who and the reason I think it happened.

I do not understand why the question was not being answered by city officials as they knew who brought it to the attention of the city attorney. I believe the answer was "it doesn't matter" well I feel it does, because two very dedicated councilman lost what they fought for (through elections). As you can see from the post by Dennis it was the county attorney informing the city attorney, and no it was never published or released.

I truly hope the statute is amended to safeguard the public.

Dennis with regards to the statement "that they did it for the good and protection of the city instead of trying to "get" council members." It does not feel that way, in fact in my opinion it doesn't even look that way.

Personally I just would like to see everyone take a long hard look at their principals and values.

I may not personally agree with all the decisions the council makes but I would never attempt to hurt someone personally or professionally just because of the way they vote or voice their opinion.

Very sad in my way of thinking.

-- Posted by ruby4 on Fri, Jan 6, 2012, at 4:47 PM

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