(from left to right) Piedmont City Councilmen Donnie Robinson, Al Gleichmann and Charles Coffman excuse themselves from voting on an agenda item they all three have a legal conflict associated with.
By Matt Montgomery
As soon as Piedmont Mayor Valerie Thomerson began to read Business Item 8C from Monday night’s city council agenda, three councilmen abruptly excused themselves from the meeting, forcing the mayor to first apologize to audience members then call for the meeting to adjourn until the city can have a quorum in place.
A quorum is defined as the minimum number of members of an assembly or society that must be present at any of its meetings to make the proceedings of that meeting valid. In the case of the Piedmont city council which has five members, three must be present to have a quorum. Once the three councilmen left the room, there was no quorum.
“Jennifer, it seems to me that we have lost our quorum, and at this point would you do a formal role call, please?” Thomerson asked to Piedmont City Clerk Jennifer Smith. Only councilmen Bobby Williamson and Robert Simpson remained.
After the council meeting was abruptly adjourned, City Councilman Charles Coffman spoke to the Gazette about his decision to excuse himself from the meeting.
“We all want growth, we do,” Coffman said. “But, a councilman has to make a decision on whether or not there’s potential conflicts. And, so we have to go with our conscience. In this case, I felt I had to leave for that reason. At some point here in the near future, hopefully, the court cases will be completed and we can get back to doing business that will benefit all the citizens. Until that point, we’re probably going to have that same situation occur. I hope not.”
The three councilmen, Charles Coffman, Donnie Robinson and Al Gleichman are all involved in a pending lawsuit with local developer Phil Boevers. The business item the councilmen excluded themselves from voting on was for a discussion on a preliminary plat of land called “Magnolia Medows,” which is owned by Rita Strubhar and Cindy Boevers, Phil Boevers’ wife. The same business item was brought before the council last month and the same three councilmen excused themselves from that discussion as well. This agenda item has been placed on the agenda twice and twice it hasn’t been discussed because of an absence of a quorum.
According to legal records filed in Canadian County in 2012, Robinson is listed as a defendant and Coffman and Gleichmann are listed as “notice recipients” in CJ-2012-46, which is a libel/slander lawsuit filed by Boevers Homes, LLC, against numerous defendants, including former Piedmont city councilman Vernon Woods, former Piedmont Mayor Mike Fina, Piedmont Planning Commissioner Ron Cardwell, John Mike Simpson, Jeff Williams and Williams Grocery, and Donya and Ron Hau, and the now defunct Piedmont Citizen newspaper.
The first two agenda items, 8A and 8B, were pulled from the agenda “due to an error with regard to the legal description,” Thomerson said. “I’ll leave it at that without going into more details.”
Before the meeting was called to order, Piedmont’s new police chief, Scott Singer, was sworn in by Thomerson.