BAXTER SPRINGS — The Baxter Springs City Council meeting exploded yet again last week, when tensions over who will take the place of Councilman Ron Steele, who had resigned at the last meeting, exploded again.
At the previous meeting Mayor Jenifer Bingham had said she would bring a list of people who were interested in the position after attempts by the council to appoint former councilman Stan Pickering failed at that night.
Council members apparently took that to mean they would have the list prior to the meeting. Bingham said she took that to mean she would come with a list to the meeting — as well as having several interested parties at the meeting.
When Councilman Mike Kaufman objected to not having the names in advance, the meeting erupted.
"Don't you live in your big glass house and start telling me what I haven't submitted," Bingham said. "Or we can go down your list and I can go down it really quickly, do you want to go there tonight?"
Kaufman quickly responded.
"I was told that we would get a list of people and we didn't get it," he said.
Bingham immediately shot back: "I disagree with you, but that's not unusual for the six of you to disagree with me.
"Here are the names, those people are here to talk to you tonight, what's your beef? They wanted to come up tonight and talk to council. You're uncomfortable because you wanted to have it all done before you got here tonight."
Councilman Gary Allen objected as well.
"We were supposed to have them ahead of time so we could at least maybe call them and talk to them," he said.
Two potential candidates Laurie Alquist and Brian Miller spoke at the meeting.
Alquist asked if it was not the mayor's prerogative to appoint replacements to open seats. Bingham responded that it had been in the past but alluded to a charter ordinance which would have stripped appointment powers from the mayor. That ordinance has since failed.
Miller was somewhat more forceful in his presentation.
"I am tired of seeing a bunch of children up here in this city council because I am not afraid to speak my mind and tell you what I think," he said. "I don't need a piece of paper written out to tell you what I think.
"As far as the city people will you like it every time, you will get an honest opinion from me and you will get an honest answer. I will not make motions because I don't like her or I don't like him. Like the rest of these children do."
Dean Auman, who is also a former city councilman, said he was not interested in the position because of health issues but said he would like to see disagreements put aside.
Local accountant Linda Fagan had expressed interest in the position but was unable to attend the meeting for personal reasons.
No decision was made and the matter was tabled until the first meeting of November scheduled for Nov. 13.
The council also approved a bond issue which refinanced certain portions of the city debt.
The original estimate is that the bond issue would save the city about $160,000 in reduced interest. After the winning bid came in from United Missouri Bank, the total was closer to $210,000 in savings.
Additionally, the council agreed to give $500 to the Baxter Springs Chamber of Commerce, the Baxter Springs Museum board and the economic development committee and $1,000 to the Historical society from the transient guest tax.