Talk of resignations in reference to a city council member and the chief of police were high on the list of priorities for several Enterprise residents at Tuesday’s City Council’s work session.
City Councilwoman Debra Kamhi had been asked for her resignation, in September, by the council and members of the community after an annual city audit showed that she had more than $9,500 in unpaid utility bills, which include electric, water, sewer and trash.
“You are here,” City Council President Brent McKeeman said addressing the packed council room. “The media is here, Debra is not here. I had planned to ask her to resign.”
At the Oct. 1 council meeting Kamhi had stated that if more than half of the registered voters in Enterprise signed a petition requesting her resignation she would voluntarily step down. There are 401 registered voters, 201 valid signatures would be required for her to resign of her own accord — that number was not reached.
James Jones, a resident who worked on the petition said 204 names were gathered, but only 120 of those were registered voters.
McKeeman said he intends to repeat the request for her resignation at Thursday’s council meeting. Should Khami not voluntarily resign at that time, he will likely call on citizens to initiate the proceedings for a recall election.
That process will require 40 percent of voters who participated in the election at which she was elected to sign a recall petition, Jones said there were 95 people who voted in that election, so just 38 names will be required on the petition.
Several council members expressed the desire to see the matter resolved without a costly and time-consuming recall election, but they are concerned about the perceived conflict of interest that having her remain on the council creates.
McKeeman also took a moment to remind the audience and the council about some of the positive things that Kamhi has accomplished for Enterprise, particularly starting the Bountiful Baskets program.
Utilities are Enterprise’s primary revenue generator. As such, members of the audience asked about how the city intends to collect on the overdue bill and why she had not been charged criminally. City attorney Brad Jantz said there are no criminal charges that can be brought. City council members are discussing options for collection.
“Matters of debt collection I would like to cover at a later time,” McKeeman said.
Following public and council discussion about her resignation; Police Chief Bronson Campbell addressed the council.
Although he did not formally submit a resignation, he said he is considering doing so as a result of a conversation with Mayor Larry Jantz, whom he said had several complaints about the way he is doing his job. These complaints left Campbell with a feeling that there was a lack of support.
He cited several specifics from the conversation including being told that the police chief “should be more like Barney Fife and not Clint Eastwood.”
He said he was also informed by the mayor that he needed to work on his public relations skills, and refuted that assessment by listing a number of public policing initiatives that he initiated in the six months that he has served as chief.
He then turned to the audience and asked if they felt that he was providing more or less public relations than the previous chief. The audience responded in his favor.
In relaying his conversation with the mayor, he defended each position that had been brought up in the conversation.
When Jantz spoke in his defense of the comments it became clear that neither side recalled some of the details of the conversation the same way. Afterward Jantz said “I do now, and have always supported the chief.”
McKeeman ended the conversation by stating that the discussion would be continued Thursday in executive session.
“We have a good chief, we have a good mayor. I hope we can work out our differences,” he said. “We would hate to lose a god chief. I don’t think we will.”