NEWTON FALLS, Ohio (WKBN) — Wednesday evening saw confusion in Newton Falls over whether city council would hold its meeting.
Posts on the city’s Facebook page said the meeting was canceled because of the weather, but Mayor Ken Kline says he’s the only person who can cancel a meeting.
The doors to council chambers remained locked during the meeting because the people have the keys didn’t show up.
On Wednesday afternoon, multiple posts were made to the City of Newton Falls’ Facebook page, stating the city council meeting had been canceled “due to the severe weather conditions.”
But that meeting took place — with residents sitting cross-armed at folding tables in the lobby of the council building. Some held signs, calling to fire city manager Pam Priddy.
“They backed the mayor into a corner,” said Julie Lemon, a first ward resident.
Lemon sits on the charter review commission for Newton Falls.
“Three members of council cannot form their own quorum and have a meeting to cancel a meeting, because they do not have the authority to do so. That is the mayor’s job. Per Article 2, Section 3 of the charter,” Lemon said.
The charter says, in part:
“The mayor shall serve as official and ceremonial head of the city government …. and shall preside over all council sessions.”
“I don’t see anything that would warrant canceling a meeting,” Kline said.
Councilwoman At-Large Julie Stimpert and 4th Ward Councilman Kevin Rufener were there. Ward 1’s Bud Fetterolf, Ward 2’s John Baryak and Ward 3’s Tesa Spletzer did not attend.
Kline has other ideas why members of council and other administrative staff didn’t come to the meeting.
“I believe there are individuals that don’t want to look you in the eye, face-to-face,” Kline said.
Priddy’s lawyer released the following statement to First News regarding the incident:
During tonight’s meeting, the mayor, ironically, suggested that Ms. Pamela Priddy and members of council did not attend because they did not want to “look him in the eye” and speak directly to him. Yet, Mayor Kline, who claims he wished to resolve the manufactured issue with Ms. Priddy “as a friend,” unilaterally called for her resignation without even having the decency to speak with her “as a friend” first.
Tonight, Mayor Kline continued his offensive and patently false narrative about Ms. Priddy, making further egregious misrepresentations about incidents that occurred. His statements are absurd on their face and anyone with an interest in the objective truth will recognize that the story he advances has been continuously morphed to fit his narrative.
We reiterate, unequivocally, that any suggestion or insinuation that Pamela Priddy falsified or doctored records is false, has been false since the date Mayor Kline uttered said allegations, and these allegations remain false through this day.
Ms. Priddy will not be resigning. She has been and remains dedicated to her position and serving the citizens of Newton Falls – even citizens who disagree with her decisions, publicly mock or deride her, or who have said much worse in public forums.
We look forward to the opportunity to establish the truth of the incidents in question in a forum that values facts and evidence, not self-serving narratives by so-called “friends.”