Restaurateur calls city official a liar
Area businessman Mike Beneke angrily called Marion’s city administrator a liar in front of a stunned city council two weeks after he skipped his invitation to speak.
This time, Beneke showed up wrapped in a banner that said “Beneke for Mayor 2023” and had plenty to say both to Roger Holter and the city after they rescinded a $10,000 grant promised him in September to help him reopen Edwards.
The city sought legal counsel in response to reports the Lincolnville cattleman was consulting his own attorney over the spat — which he vehemently denied Monday evening.
“I have not sought legal counsel in this matter, unless the law firms of me, myself, and I are the employee,” he said his voice shaking with hurt.
“I guess, what it comes down to is, whatever you guys want to do I guess is fine,” he said. “You spit in my face, don’t expect me not to spit back.
“And if you condone ‘Roger lyin’-to-my ass’ in his capacity. I will see what I need to do.”
Holter confirmed the city had, indeed, referred the matter to a lawyer and said he would limit his comments because of this.
“The city did not engage,” Holter said. “We simply responded based on his communications and your publication of those facts.”
Holter said Beneke was awarded the community development block grant with the stipulation that he reopen the restaurant.
“To date, he has not fulfilled that obligation to reopen as stipulated on the grant award,” he said. “The city council then voted to rescind the grant.”
Holter said he invited Beneke to address the council Nov. 2, “but he refused to take the opportunity.”
However, Monday evening, Beneke told council he reported to the city’s office upon receiving his grant approval as he was instructed, only to have Holter tell him he did not have time to cut the check.
“When I came in, it was probably still 3 p.m., so there wasn’t time to cut my check — it’s too late in the day. And he said he would have Tiffany cut it in the morning,” Beneke said in a parking lot after the meeting. “So, if that didn’t happen, that’s a flat-ass lie to my face.
Instead, Beneke received an email at 8:44 a.m. on Wednesday from Holter informing him he would need to appear at the Nov. 2 council meeting.
“After consultation with the mayor, grant administrator, and legal counsel, it has been determined that you will be required to address the city council in the upcoming meeting on Nov. 2 at 4:30 in an effort to allow for a better understanding of what and how the grant funding will be utilized,” Holter said.
“The funds will not be released until the governing body has made a determination,” he said in the email.
The same day, Beneke applied for a permit to demolish the building near U.S-56 that housed the business.
Beneke attended to the council meeting, but said he felt ill and left.
“And that’s my word against somebody else’s to try and prove it,” he said, adding that his symptoms were caused by a change in his blood pressure medicine. “Did I have a doctor’s slip? No.”
The city made the $10,000 available for another round of grant applications.
“Mr. Beneke was informed he could reapply for round two,” Holter said.
A sign on the Edwards building now reads “Future home of Holter Collett memorial vacant lot.”