Aledo meeting overflows

Cathy Decker/Staff reporter
More than 55 individuals attended Monday night's Aledo City Council meeting.

With more than 55 people registered at Monday's May 3, 2010 Aledo City Council meeting, it was fairly evident that most were there to support recently ousted J. Michael Sponsler, former Chief of Police who served his last day working for the city on April 30.

Three individuals were on the agenda during the committee of the whole meeting.

Businessman Steve Pearson, asked the council for consideration with taxes, as he is planning an expansion of his business.

Aledo citizen Bill Breeden addressed the city council about the recent high profile media attention. He said he was only representing his own opinion. "It didn't take me long to come up with what I wanted to say. Aledo has become a target of the media," he said.

He was disheartened by snide remarks about our city politics. He mentioned the partisan politics and innuendos were dragging the city through the mud. "It is has to stop," he said.

He pointed to the council's recent decision to not rehire Sponsler. He said Sponsler had never received a bad evaluation and there were only two issues the council seemed to have problems with - the chief's salary and the department budget, even though the council approved the budget earlier and his salary. "Chief Sponsler had volunteered for a $10,000 pay cut," said Breeden.

He encouraged the council members to rethink the Sponsler issue and listen to their constituents. "Get out on the streets and talk to them (constituents)."

This whole system is based on respect and trust, Breeden went on to say. "Do what's best for the citizens of Aledo."

Also speaking on behalf of the police chief was Aledo citizen Dwight Reynolds. He started out by touting what a great community Aledo is. He explained that when the council was looking at the salaries of all its administrators he personally wrote letters to all the aldermen on their behalf.

"There have been comments that the council has not heard from many people in support of Chief Sponsler. This large group of citizens that have been attending every Council meeting since contract issues came up were here in support of the entire City Staff including Chief Sponsler. I would also say that most of the people here tonight are here in support of Chief Sponsler," said Reynolds.

He said that if he was on the city council he would look for someone who had as much experience as possible, had local ties, and was involved in the community - all qualities that Sponsler had.

He asked the council to re-vote on renewing the contract of J. Michael Sponsler.

Both Reynolds and Breeden's speeches had positive crowd reactions with loud clapping.

Later, during the regular city council meeting, Alderman Barry Cooper asked to have the issue brought back to the table for the council to discuss. "Could we get a consensus of the council to review the Mike Sponsler contract?"

Alderman Robert Rillie pointed out that the council could not bring this up as a motion to reconsider, because that would require the request be made by someone who voted against his contract.

Cooper said it was not a request for a motion to reconsider.

Alderman Rillie also requested that the next meeting's agenda declare that there is a TIF surplus.

Rillie also questioned Sponsler, who was in the audience, about whether he was still interested in being the Aledo Chief.

"If the council is willing to, then yes, I would consider it," said Sponsler.

After a closed session, the council returned to session and had a heated discussion on the Mayor's committee appointments that were handed out at the meeting.

City attorney Mark Walton explained that the mayor's duties are to set the committee appointments. He said the council can set up other committees as needed and "The council can actually change membership on a committee."

"Can you resign your position on a committee?" asked Alderman Michael Baugher.

There was also some heated discussions on TIF and the committee formation.

Alderman Mattson said that he would walk out of the meeting if Rillie and Maynard were at the meeting. "I'm not going to participate in an illegal meeting," said Mattson.

The city's TIF meeting is scheduled for Thursday at 6 p.m.