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Herbel, Mayfield continue to clash

Staff writer

Susan Robson’s apology to Ruth Herbel for a letter she sent her was a bright spot of civility during Marion’s city council meeting.

The grace note was a counterpoint to terse exchanges between Herbel and city mayor David Mayfield.

Robson told Herbel Monday she only intended to counsel her about the city’s liability regarding a contract to purchase a building at 828 N. Roosevelt St.

“I did not intend for it to be threatening,” she said of the letter which ran in the March 17 edition of the Marion County Record.

“I intended it to be advisory as to what the city’s liability was and what yours was,” Robson said. “So, I apologize that you took it as a threat.”

Herbel nodded and said she did interpret Robson’s warning she could be “personally sued” for breach of contract as threatening.

“If you continue to put the city of Marion at risk, your actions could result in the mayor admonishing you before the entire council,” Robson said.

Marion city mayor David Mayfield said he needed tell the council why he signed off on the letter for the “sake of transparency.”

This past June, he said Herbel told him she talked with a local business about buying the Roosevelt St. building, but asked him to keep the information confidential.

“I won’t divulge the name of the business, but Ruth knows who she was talking to,” he said.

The letter, sent nine months ago by Robson in June, was intended to advise Herbel that she could be sued because the building is under contract with the city, he said.

The city has a responsibility to give council members legal advice, and that is all the letter did, Mayfield said.

“I authorized this letter in an effort to keep the incident confidential and not involve the rest of the council or the public,” he said. “But I see now that was a mistake.”

Herbel said all she did was give some information to a citizen who approached her.

“I’m not trying to sell the building. I’m just giving information,” she said. “That’s my job.”

Mayfield said marketing the city’s buildings is the economic director’s job.

“It is not the council’s position to do that,” he said.

Herbel agreed, but said she would answer citizen’s questions.

“If they ask a question, I am going to answer it,” she said. “I am for transparency.”

Mayfield said that is not the way he remembers their conversation over the building.”

“There weren’t questions asked That’s not what you told me,” he said. The mayor then quickly offered a motion to adjourn.

The city council granted Expedition Wind Farm until June 30 to complete purchase of the building in the city’s industrial park.

In other business Marion city council:

  • Approved renewal of EMC Insurance Co.’s insurance portfolio. Alex Case, president of Case & Son Insurance Inc. said the renewal premium of $95,686 was 2 ½% less that this past year.
  • Approved a letter of understanding for payment for city’s pool until the state’s attorney general approves a revised interlocal agreement between the council and Marion-Florence public school district.

Last modified March 25, 2021

 

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