Falls council reset again
Meeting lacks quorum for 2nd time this week
NEWTON FALLS — For the second time this week, village council did not have a quorum of members to act on setting a date for a recall election for 4th Ward Councilwoman Sandra Breymaier.
At an emergency meeting Wednesday, only two of the four council members attended. Three members are needed for a quorum. Council members John Baryak and Tesa Spletzer attended, while council members Breymaier and Adam Zimmerman did not. Councilman at-Large Tarry Alberini resigned effective immediately on Tuesday.
Mayor Ken Kline told the more than 25 people at the emergency meeting that Breymaier notified him of health issues preventing her from attending, but he did not hear anything from Zimmerman.
Kline said neither Breymaier nor Zimmerman attended the regular council meeting Monday, so he is keeping track of the meetings they miss. On Monday, both were unexcused.
“We have been trying to have a meeting to set a date for the recall election and now we have a council seat open due to a resignation. I believe the recall is very time sensitive and needs to be taken care of,” Kline said.
He said he will speak to Law Director Joseph Fritz to contact Breymaier and Zimmerman seeking their resignations for missing meetings. Kline said part of being a council member is to attend meetings.
“If they don’t care enough for their community to come to the meetings, then step aside and let someone else do it. Any other job where they keep missing, they would be fired,” Kline said.
Zimmerman, who lives near the municipal building, was seen outside his home Wednesday evening as noted by Kline and several residents at the meeting.
He said if council members continue missing meetings and council business is not getting done, the situation may have to go before a magistrate or judge to take action.
Village manager David Lynch said Fritz sent a ruling Wednesday to Kline and other officials indicating the meeting would be illegal because it did not meet the threshold of what would be designated as an emergency. Lynch said Fritz stated in his written opinion the meeting was not a clear emergency because council does not need to take action on setting the recall until July 8.
Lynch said because of this, Zimmerman sent an email that he would not participate in an illegally convened emergency meeting.
Also on Wednesday, Breymaier, while herself under motion for recall, had Fritz initiate the process of a hearing at 5 p.m. May 19 for the removal of Spletzer from council for “gross misconduct” because of improper use of the 911 system. She called 911 on April 16 while at the municipal building.
Spletzer said after Wednesday’s meeting that she was at the municipal building on April 16 to pick up materials for an upcoming council meeting when security would not allow her any further than the lobby. She said this happened also on Feb. 26 when she came to get materials for the meeting, such as department reports and applications for the economic development position, and she was denied access and not given the materials.
“I dealt with the situation locally on Feb. 16, but when the same situation happened again in April, I decided to take a different course of action and called 911 to explain that I was not being allowed access to information in the building when I was there for official business trying to do my job as member of council,” Spletzer said.
Breymaier in her complaint is claiming Spletzer called 911 for what appeared to have been a non-emergency. A 911 dispatcher did send an officer to the scene to assist. Spletzer said she had no choice but to call 911 because when someone calls the Newton Falls police, most of the time they get a recording.
MEETING SET FRIDAY
Kline said a special meeting is set for 6 p.m. Friday on setting the date for the recall election. He said other matters of concern, such as the budget, need to be reviewed by council.
Kline said as to comments from Fritz that the meeting was not an emergency because there is time to set the recall, he said an emergency meeting was called a few months ago to pass a motion to show support and congratulations to the Cleveland Browns for making the playoffs, which he feels could have waited.
As for filling Alberini’s council seat, Kline said council will seek applicants from the village since at-Large positions cover the entire community and not just individual wards. Individuals will have a set number of weeks to apply for the position before interviews are set. The matter also is scheduled to be addressed at Friday’s meeting.
Lynch said council has 60 days to fill the position. He said the matters may not be addressed Friday and have to be acted upon at the May 17 regular meeting where it is anticipated all four remaining members will attend.
He said Kline’s attorney and Fritz have been in contact about the situation, which he feels will be resolved.