May 29, 2024

‘I know what I’m doing’

Tempers come out at Creston City Council meeting

Incoming Creston Mayor Waylon Clayton, pictured here at the Creston City Council candidate forum, spoke Monday at Creston Rotary.

During what was the longest Creston City Council meeting in years, councilmembers, the mayor and city employees clashed in a heated debate over job responsibilities and chain of command.

The conversation began during a hearing on a nuisance abatement issued to Carlisle Automotive Repair. Owner David Carlisle requested the hearing regarding a Notice to Abate Nuisance: Dangerous Building he received March 27.

Represented by Creston attorney Douglas Dagget, a number of points were argued against the notice to abate. These points included the lack of the fire chief’s signature; the citation of Creston Code Chapter 145 which names the building structurally unsound and that the building is commercial, though Chapter 145 refers to buildings used for dwelling.

Councilmember Jocelyn Blazek agreed Chapter 145 did not fit the building, instead suggesting Chapter 50 should have been used, which refers to any object or structure that could be considered “injurious to health, indecent or unreasonably offensive to the senses.”

“Other than the broken window, all these things he lists, which is gutters, paint, siding, those do not fall under the dangerous buildings ordinance,” Blazek said. As Carlisle is in the middle of negotiations for a new window, she asked what the options for the council to address the incorrectly issued nuisance.

Blazek

Mayor Waylon Clayton chimed in with the catalyst of the argument.

“Here’s my option, because when it comes to government, we have to do the process correctly,” Clayton said. “What I’m going to say is, every ordinance that has been sent out under the wrong authority, I’m going to call it null and void from this day forth and we’re going to restart the process. That’s what’s happening.”

Creston Code Complaince Officer Bobby Wintermute jumped from his seat, saying this wasn’t Clayton’s decision to make.

“I’m your boss. Sit down,” Clayton snapped.

“You’re not my boss,” Wintermute refuted.

According to the Creston code compliance officer description, Wintermute reports to the public works director. Without an active public works director, Wintermute reports to Creston City Administrator Mike Taylor.

“If you say that publicly, you completely dismantle everything I’m working on,” Wintermute continued.

“I know what I’m doing,” Clayton responded. When Wintermute disputed this statement, Clayton asked Creston Police Chief Paul Ver Meer to remove him. Wintermute left of his own volition.

As code compliance officer, Wintermute investigates any possible violation of municipal code, communicates these violations to the owners and enforces the nuisance code.

After Wintermute left, Waylon spoke again about the proper authority and government’s responsibilities.

“We’ve got to follow the rules here,” Clayton said. “We raised our right hand and swore to that code and to the citizens of this community that we will follow that code to the tee. We broke the rules, regardless if we did it or not, we broke the rules. Start it over.”

“You think you’re everybody’s boss,” Councilmember Steve Wintermute interjected. “That’s not true.” Steve is Bobby’s father.

Steve Wintermute

Blazek attempted to get the council back on track.

“If you want to follow the rules, you can’t just start dictating either. Let’s keep it to what’s on the agenda, the issue at hand,” she said. “We have a broken window that does fall under the dangerous building code, and Mr. Carlisle has acknowledged that and is working to correct that. The other items on that are general nuisances and should be classified under Chapter 50, not Chapter 145. So what actions can we take to rectify?”

Ver Meer explained, if the council agrees Carlisle should not have been served an abatement under Chapter 145, the council can withdraw their abatement notice. Bobby can later serve another abatement notice under the correct chapter.

When it came time to decide, Steve abstained from the vote. “I don’t want to vote, I think it’s crap. Want me to get up and leave?” he said.

Councilmember Richard Madison made the motion, Blazek seconding it. All remaining councilmembers voted to withdraw the abatement.

With 20 items left on the agenda and over an hour into the meeting, Clayton declared a 15 minute recess.

Erin Henze

Originally from Wisconsin, Erin is a recent graduate from UW-Stevens Point. Outside of writing, she loves to read and travel.